Did you watch TV last night? Did you see the scene in 'Girls' where Marnie gets shoved up against the kitchen sink and has sex doggy-style with Desi? Or how about when Celeste in 'Big, Little Lies,' has violent, hate-sex with her monster husband Perry? Was it as good as that scene in 'The Affair' when Noah and Alison do it for the first time? Was it as good as the scene with Khaleesi and Drogo in 'Game of Thrones'?
TV has changed dramatically from our childhoods. Back then, sex was only on VERY late at night and was chiefly relegated to Channel 4. Now and then there might be an arty film and you'd get a glimpse of a woman's nipple but it was rare. In the same way that we had to re-read extracts from Jackie Collins novels to hear about sex, so we had to hunt about on the TV schedule to see something a tiny bit erotic. Probably the most risqué thing that happened back then was when Anna Friel's character in 'Brookside' had a snog with another woman.
Now things have changed dramatically. Any good series worth its salt has to have raunchy scenes in it. And we've become fairly blasé with shots of bums, boobs, cocks and fannies. And these changes have come about pretty quickly. If you just cast your mind back to 'Sex And The City,' days, the content was sexy but we didn't actually see very much. Okay sometimes Samantha was shown with some guy thrusting like mad on top of her but it wasn't real sex and it still felt like a cartoon because it was often so exaggerated.
Porn has obviously been a massive influence on how popular culture changed and sex suddenly felt like it was everywhere. An article in Time magazine by Eliana Dokterman points out that porn has definitely been a factor in driving the amount of RAUNCH we see.
'Access to graphic sex online spurred networks into what became a nudity arms race. A 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that the number of sex scenes on TV had doubled in the last seven years and that 70% of all shows on TV included some sort of sexual content.'
The type of sex we are watching is also shifting and its hopefully becoming less cliched and more reflective of the female experience. The same article interviews Jill Soloway, Director of the hit Amazon series 'Transparent':
“By the time I started filming Transparent, I wanted to show women being in their bodies and experiencing the complicated, messy reality of being human so in an early episode, Gaby Hoffmann’s Ali attempts a threesome, and the camera follows her eyesight. In the editing room, I worked really hard to try and stay in her point of view and never use the objective camera, which would not only be looking at her in this scenario but inviting the audience to judge her.”
So watching sex on TV can definitely open our eyes to different experiences and maybe even provide fuel for fantasies. The only issue is if watching sex on TV is all that happens. When we're tired and sleep is at a premium, a boxset can feel like the only thing we're fit for. Are we increasingly watching rather than taking part? Statistically everyone is having less sex than they were before (apart from baby boomers- jammy buggers) and is the proliferation of sex everywhere contributing.
Does watching all this sex maybe make us feel like we're doing it when we're not? And if it does, does that matter?
Is watching sex just as good? (we'd argue possibly not).