HBO loves tits. I’m not talking about the late, late-night special programming (I was just being polite - porn), but I am talking about regular primetime shows that prove to be game changers in the world of network original series. Shows like “Girls,” “Boardwalk Empire” and the most endowed show on the network, “Game of Thrones,” all seem to have an affinity for breasts.
It’s my belief that female frontal nudity should be used wisely. Like sex scenes, nudity should be used in moderation to portray something about the storyline or character that would otherwise be ridiculous to vocalize. In Showtime’s “Homeland,” Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes, has sex with a suspected terrorist and even ends up falling in love with him. While watching the show, intense eye rolling may occur, but it serves a purpose to show the viewer that Mathison struggles with bipolar disorder and desperately wants to prove herself and others right. This seems a thousand times more justified in comparison to when “Game of Thrones” showed two women learning the ins-and-outs of prostitution, so to speak, for 4 minutes while a fully-clothed male pimp watched, instructed, became bored and went on about his business.
This isn’t to say that “Game of Thrones” doesn’t get it right from time to time. In the show’s Season 1 finale, no amount of words could match up to the message received when a naked Khaleesi emerged from the ashes, framed by three dragons. The scene wouldn’t have the same effect if she were clothed. Like Greek and Roman statues, her nudity was used a symbol of power, greatness and position above commoners who would be ashamed of showing their frontal nude bodies to a tribe of followers. She was the “Mother of Dragons” and therefore, she transcended all submissiveness that came with her character in Season 1 and became otherworldly.
Since then, Emilia Clarke, who plays a Daenerys Targaryen/Khaleesi on “Game of Thrones,” has revealed her breasts and other parts much less frequently. In Season 3, she only stripped down once.
Oona Chaplin, who played Talisa Maegyr on the series, recently told The Telegraph that one of her fellow actresses refused to be naked anymore.
“One of the girls in the show who got her kit off the most in the first couple of seasons now doesn’t at all because she said, 'I want to be known for my acting not for my breasts,’ ” Chaplin said.
Fans of the show began speculating that said actress was Clarke.
Clarke also had the experience of being nude on Broadway when she played Truman Capote’s famed Holly Golightly in the Broadway adaptation of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” She faced an awkward situation when theatergoers broke the “no-photos” rule and snapped pictures of Clarke naked on-stage. If it were anyone but Clarke, whose name identifies directly with Khaleesi and admits to being approached by fans who don’t know her real name, the live-nude scene wouldn’t have gone viral. The need to increase theater security was fueled by Clarke’s nudity on screen in the HBO series. Her mystified body that was once only attainable through our television sets could now be experienced in-person. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” didn’t do so great on Broadway, so it’s no surprise that if Chaplin’s unnamed actress were Clarke, she would rather be recognized for her talent than her body parts.
Clarke is a beautiful woman who has bared her breasts on an HBO series and has received largely positive feedback - if positive feedback means cultural acceptance. It may go back to age-old issue of “unrealistic expectation of women’s bodies” that sees Clarke’s nudity as something to be revered and anticipated, however, when Lena Dunham shows her less-than anticipated body on “Girls,” she is subject to criticism and harassment.
Dunham has been denounced for being excessively naked on her own HBO show. For a woman who created, produced and wrote an entire series at 27 years old, one would think she has the right to show whatever part of herself she wants. In fact, there’s no executive telling her to get naked for the camera because Dunham is her own boss.
Dunham’s nudity is a message to perverse watchers. If they can identify Clarke as a celebrated actress, Dunham should also be in the club (especially after winning a Golden Globe for “Best Actress in a TV Comedy” in 2013). She isn’t.
The reason why is because Clarke has a conventionally beautiful body and Dunham is a “little fat chick,” as stated by radio personality Howard Stern. For two actresses who established their characters in pop culture through their nude scenes, they are judged by their looks to reveal something about their respective acting skills.
So what does nudity say on TV, and when does it become a problem? Nudity can be an effective tool in the “show-don’t-tell” approach of story telling. It can depict confidence and fear, depending on the situation. Nudity is true to life, and it is refreshing when some TV shows don’t censor nudity and ruin a potentially great moment with a conveniently staged bowl of oranges (i.e., how TV handles male frontal nudity). There are a lot of positives, but unfortunately, a false sense of privilege and judgment ruin nudity when it becomes exploited in women.
Nudity shouldn’t be a ploy to up ratings, and I shouldn’t have to convince my male friends that “Game of Thrones” has something for everybody – a great storyline and boobs – as if the first aspect was too boring for the casual watcher. If nudity doesn’t make a statement, don’t bother putting it in on TV.