Working behind the scenes on achieving this realism is Ita O'Brien, an intimacy co-ordinator who recently worked on the similarly-acclaimed Normal People. Over Zoom she broke down what made the scene so very powerful and disruptive. "When you look for intimate scenes that feature menstruation, I haven’t found any where you can actually see the journey through to intercourse, with all the paraphernalia, the pads, the tampons and the clot being acted out," Ita says. “I have to thank Michaela for writing this for all the women in the world. What I love about the scene is that it’s not a big deal. She mentions it, it’s not sensationalised, it’s not horrific. In fact, the character of Biagio, his curiosity and interest is just so ground-breaking."
The scene was not just groundbreaking or educational for audiences either. "In my preparation with Marouane, who plays Biago, he was asking 'really, really does this happen?', and we were having a laugh about it", says Ita. "I said to Marouane, who is just the most beautiful soul, the madness is that half of the population in the world spend on average 40 years of their lives menstruating. That’s roughly 480 weeks in the lives of every person who menstruates and of course, that’s going to include our love-making and our sexual expression within some of those 480 weeks -- and when have we seen that on screen?"
Ita’s right. With options ranging from the scene in Superbad, which shows Jonah Hill’s character repeatedly gagging after finding period blood on his trousers, to the “heavy flow and a wide-set vagina” classic in Mean Girls, relatable period-sex content is hard to come by. This is why, as Ita explains, “it was very clearly written that, as the pants are coming off, Michaela wanted the pad to be seen. And then, as she's sat on the toilet, she’s seen putting the pad in [her pants], so again all of that paraphernalia that women go through is written as part of the fabric of Arabella’s everyday life and then in her intimate content. That is so important.”
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