Westworld’s Orgy Is a Reminder That You’re Watching HBO

By
Photo: HBO

Far before Westworld spawned a cottage industry of fan theories about its take on humanity’s relationship to artificial intelligence, it was perhaps best known as the HBO show that was going to include a massive orgy, according to an infamous casting notice that made headlines a year ago. On this week’s episode, “Contrapasso,” we finally got to see that orgy, when Evan Rachel Wood, Ben Barnes, and Jimmi Simpson stop by what can be best described as an Old West pleasure palace on their way to the edges of the park. There, we saw extras in a variety of primarily heterosexual or female-on-female arrangements (we can only hope that gay male guests are having one wild cowboy sex party elsewhere), some painted red and gold, some wearing pubic hair patches. The contract also told extras they might have to “contort to form a table-like shape” or “pose on all fours while others who are fully nude ride on your back,” something we don’t see in the final cut of the scene — perhaps there’s an even grander orgy to come?

Either way, Westworld’s latest orgy continues HBO’s years-long fascination with extravagant group-sex set pieces. Ever since the it’s-not-TV network started to air scripted programming, it has often taken advantage of the chance to put sex onscreen and, depending on your mileage, regardless of whether it was justified by a narrative. Other networks, like Starz, Cinemax, or Showtime — or even Netflix, which got pretty close in Sense8 — have similarly invested in sex scenes, but there’s nothing quite like the full-on HBO event. These aren’t threesomes, or impromptu group sex; they’re fully planned, fully staged extravaganzas. In honor of the network’s latest one: a look back at some of the other HBO shows that loved to stage sex parties of their own.

(A quick note: We’re sticking to a rather strict definition of an orgy, so we’re going to leave out all the HBO shows that just had a lot of gratuitous sex, like Deadwood, The Sopranos, Hung, Tell Me You Love Me, Entourage, Hung, etc. An true orgy is organized. It’s expensive. It takes planning.)

Rome

HBO’s Rome was a very good show about the political intrigue that contorted the Roman Republic into an Empire. It was also about how all that happened while everyone was having oh so much sex — revisit the show, and you’ll never look at your beloved British character actors in the same way again. Of Rome’s many instances of group sex, season two’s “Heroes of the Republic” stands out, if only for the exchange: “I was at an orgy, mother.” “Early stages, early stages of an orgy.” We guess a late-stage orgy wasn’t in the show’s budget.

True Blood

The sex on True Blood was really a genre unto itself, given that the show coined the phrase “fangbanger.” But if we’re focusing solely on the orgies, then we’ll stick with Maryann Forrester’s season-two spell work, which really makes the residents of Bon Temp roll on. To be fair, we’ve always wondered why the townspeople in The Leftovers didn’t work off their existential stress with some orgies of their own.

Game of Thrones

It’s like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: If you write a TV show in an intensely complex fantasy universe, you’re going to have to include some sexposition to keep the people interested (especially if you have a horny executive producer pushing for more). Sex scenes are never in short supply on Game of Thrones, and thanks to Petyr Baelish and his brothel, orgies are on the table, too. A prime selection: the orgy Oberyn and Ellaria plan for themselves in season four, which features some male-on-male action, for once.

True Detective

Back before everyone saw True Detective season two, the news broke that the series had cast adult actresses Amia Miley and Peta Jensen for a “colossal orgy sequence” with “Eyes Wide Shut–caliber sex antics.” Like the rest of that season, while exciting in theory, the orgy turned out to be kind of a letdown in practice. But, hey, we’ll always have a few dimly lit shots of Rachel McAdams glowering to remember it by.