Game of Thrones? That’s the show with the boobies, right? Well, yes; like so many HBO dramas (including True Blood and Boardwalk Empire), Thrones serves up female flesh in situations both dramatically integral and superfluous. Some viewers have a problem with that. Since its 2011 debut, Thrones has been attacked for “gratuitous” nudity and labeled sexist for stripping its women more often than its men. These are two different complaints, though; intertwining them muddies each. The first concerns the appropriateness of graphic sex and/or nudity; the second is about the show’s “gaze,” which is undeniably heterosexual and male. But it’s possible to enjoy sex and nudity without guilt or bluenosed justifications while simultaneously pointing out that the scales of spectatorship are out of whack. I’d like Game of Thrones to enlarge the scope of its fantasy — to show more same-sex couplings and male nudity — as Starz’s Spartacus series has done with such panache. For all its tough, complicated women characters, Thrones is rightly perceived as too much of a sausagefest. The producers could change that perception by adding more sausage.
This piece originally appeared in the April 1 issue of New York Magazine.