Somewhat resistant to fantasy, but intrigued by the viewer loyalty it generated, I finally began watching Game of Thrones. The first two episodes of the first season have convinced me to continue watching. But I’m not writing a review; instead, I’m reacting to my initial impulse to take the producers of Game of Thrones to task for including gratuitous sex scenes. Gratuitous in its second definition, that is: without cause; unjustified.
When the sex scenes in a novel, film, or TV series are described as gratuitous, it usually means that you can tell they’re included to increase readership or viewership both because they’re too numerous and they fail to advance the plot. You could argue that they provide a break from the tension of the plot, but more often they defuse it. Also, while comparing the actors’ techniques — where is it written that male actors need to fake thrusting with a force bordering on violence? — to your own, you find yourself further removed from the story.
But, of course, a sex scene can reveal much about a character’s, well, character. To cite another TV show, the early, cringe-inducing sex scenes with Nicholas Brody in Homeland reveal how damaged he is. Likewise, the sex scenes in Game of Thrones, thus far in my viewing experience, are not just central, but critical to, the plot. For example, they reveal the incestuous relationship between Ser Jaime Lannister and Queen Cersei Lannister and they show how Daenerys Targaryen is learning to handle her barbarian warlord husband Khal Drogo.
Question: When porn develops slowly, as in “women’s porn,” does the lack of nonstop sex common to most porn become “gratuitous plot”?