|Jemima Kirke as Jessa and Lena Dunham as Hannah in Girls; Esme Bianco as Ros in Game of Thrones.|
"It's hard to write good sex," she said. "It always just sounds like porn."
I remembered this conversation when I read a piece about the sex on (what else?) Girls in the New York Review of Books. The author, Elaine Blair, rhapsodizes about the "unexpected frankness and naturalism" of sex scenes between Hannah and her not-boyfriend Adam, while taking to task those who find those scenes uncomfortable and clearly one-sided. "We can find something sexy and even liberating in that sex scene in spite of our strong identification with Hannah," she says, referring to a scene from Girls's second episode in which Adam masturbates on Hannah's chest while spouting some very uncomfortable dirty talk. "Sexy" and "liberating" are somewhat odd descriptors for a sex scene in which one partner doesn't reach orgasm and is clearly not fully comfortable with Adam's particular brand of turn-ons.
Don't get me wrong; I don't object to the sexual acts happening onscreen in and of themselves. I agree with Blair that Hollywood movies and TV shows have an unfortunate tendency to equate sex with, as she says, "mutually rapturous face-to-face vaginal intercourse," and that it would be nice to see other kinds of sex portrayed as normal rather than deviant. The problem is that Girls doesn't really do much to take these atypical portrayals of sex out of the realm of deviance and into the mainstream. Yes, the characters do have many different kinds of sex - oral, autoerotic and doggy-style are but a few of the varieties on display - but, as of right now, only one female character has actually been seen enjoying any of this sex. Not coincidentally, she's the one who shows up accidentally pregnant, a moment that doesn't exactly read as judgment-free.