Because sex scenes have long been made by and for men, studios may fear that sexy movies are inherently sexist movies. Revelations like Maria Schneider’s story of feeling violated while filming Last Tango in Paris changed the way Hollywood shoots a sex scene. Filming safely now involves hiring an intimacy coordinator to choreograph the scene and ensure the actors’ comfort.
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There’s more sex on TV than ever. The high schoolers on HBO’s Euphoria are having messy sex, joyless sex, and, occasionally, satisfying sex. White Lotus interrogated the interplay of desire, money, and power. On Netflix’s Sex Education teens explore their urges and sexuality. “Television for decades had to contend with standards and practices and pretty strict censorship,” says Kidman. “With streaming, there’s no ratings, no limitations.” TV has also broken out of the bounds of the straight, white relationships that still dominate film.
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Intimacy coordinator Ita O’Brien, who was on set for Last Dance, says it can be hard to tell a tale of intimacy in a two-hour format. She points to Hulu’s Normal People, which she also worked on, about young people who fall in and out of bed with each other as their circumstances shift. “Can you imagine that being a film?” asks O’Brien. “Twelve episodes allow you the chance to get at the depth, the complexity, the intensity of that relationship.” Similarly, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You needs six hours to explore the gray areas of consent.
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