Illustration by Mia Eshima
One word: Bridgerton.
My friends and I binge-watched the entire second season during spring break. Our eyes were glued to the screen; we had been looking forward to watching the new season ever since we finished the first one.
We all thought it was better than the last: more chemistry, more passion, more enemies to lovers tropes and, naturally, more sexual tension. The tension had been building since the beginning between Anthony and Kate, but there was only one climactic sex scene in the second to last episode, unlike the first season which had multiple.
As we were watching, it got me thinking. Do people really think this is what sex is, or should be, like?
Oh, how I pity the uneducated teenagers watching sex scenes on TV. Unfortunately, not all parents are open about sex education. If someone does not give teens the heads up that actors have intimacy coaches telling them what to do, the teenagers are going to believe their experiences should be like the Netflix version.
I walk into it knowing that the overdone moaning and exaggerated movements are just for entertainment purposes, but not everyone has the same mindset. I think of younger people whose only experience with sex are shows like Bridgerton, Euphoria, Outlander or basically any show with at least one sex scene per episode, and I think that they could potentially fantasize how their experiences could be just like that.
I also think of the adults in relationships watching those shows, and I honestly hope they would not recommend to their partner that they should try a new technique that is portrayed on screen. It would not be fair to ask a significant other to copy what Anthony Bridgerton did, because it would be crossing the line between entertainment and reality.
Not all partners have access to intimacy coaches, people.
With the shows Outlander and Euphoria, sex takes up a decent amount of screen time per episode, but sometimes those scenes involve violence and rape. Not only can viewers find these scenes uncomfortable, it could also be triggering for people who have had personal experience with sexual assault.
This is another way reality and entertainment should never be crossed; it is sad that people would even consider scenes like that part of entertainment.
Another thing that I find highly concerning is the lack of emphasis on contraceptives in these scenes. I think back on the scenes between Simon and Daphne, Kate and Anthony, and not once did someone bring up the subject of protection. Maybe the directors thought it would dampen the mood and the romance of the regency era.
Throughout the episodes, we saw the main character, Anthony, sleeping with numerous women. For his sake, I hope he used protection, otherwise he would have fathered many children. But contraceptives are a perfectly normal thing to bring up if you are sexually active, especially if you spontaneously decide to have sex in a garden.
Protection is highly important in real-life relationships, so how come it does not seem important enough to mention on TV? If they mentioned contraceptives, would it really be such an awkward thing? It should not be. If anything, I would think it would be more relatable to viewers and at the same time emphasize the importance of protection.
When viewers see the exaggerated scenes they could either think, ‘Oh, I wish my partner would do that,’ or ‘Should it be like that?’ Intimacy is one of the most important components of a relationship, but there should be a very blatant line between realism and entertainment that people would not be able to miss.
Romance in shows like Bridgerton is thrilling and entertaining, don’t get me wrong on that. I simply think that people can take intimacy scenes on screen too literally. Sex scenes, whether they are romantic or violent, can influence and trigger viewers in ways the directors and writers of these shows failed to comprehend.