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Old 01-09-2021, 03:01 AM   #1
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Default Violence and Smut in a series tones down over time, why?

Lets face facts, the stuff that made series like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Westworld, Vikings and many many others popular was the amount of Violence and Smut. But over time this stuff always gets toned down from an "R" rating to almost a PG-13 rating.

Anyone else notice this? And why would they do this?
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Old 01-09-2021, 06:37 AM   #2
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I'd guess it's a number of factors.

The biggest, in terms of nudity is that the actresses (and actors in some cases) have more leverage in negotiating their second contracts than they had with their first. When you're young and looking for your big break, you know that if you don't do nudity, someone else will and they'll get the part. Once you're established and getting your face on merchandise and magazine covers, you can say no to it, or at least agree to fewer times per season and/or more money every time you're asked to do it.

Also, shooting scenes with nudity are more difficult and cost more because you generally need to have fewer crew members on set, plus they often have people overseeing the shoots to make sure no one is being pressured into doing something they're not comfortable with.


Another issue is that when a show becomes really popular, it might start getting sold for broadcast on over-the-air or basic cable channels where the content needs to be toned down. I believe the Sopranos aired edited episodes on A&E for a number of years. So, rather than needing to edit the extreme stuff out of the episodes for broadcast use, they just include less of it to start with.
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:17 AM   #3
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Money mostly. As getbak said, if you make an R rating, you're cutting out most of the audience and most of the contracts going forward. Also the shock factor is gone. When we were kids, we'd try to sneak watching nudity or violence on tv, or sneak into theaters for R rated movies. I remember when I watched Pulp Ficton at 15 and it was just, wow. Now kids can get that anywhere in the internet.
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:17 AM   #4
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The other, and more basic, reason would be that violence and nudity could potentially engage an audience.

'Hook' them, if you will.

And once they're hooked you no longer need it and can get down to the business of telling your story.

Game of Thrones is a good example concerning nudity in particular.

Because once the 'Look! Boobs!' phase had passed, they relaxed on it significantly and then used nudity sparingly as a story-telling device to shock the viewer.
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:26 AM   #5
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Another issue is that when a show becomes really popular, it might start getting sold for broadcast on over-the-air or basic cable channels where the content needs to be toned down. I believe the Sopranos aired edited episodes on A&E for a number of years. So, rather than needing to edit the extreme stuff out of the episodes for broadcast use, they just include less of it to start with.
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:26 AM   #6
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The other, and more basic, reason would be that violence and nudity could potentially engage an audience.

'Hook' them, if you will.

And once they're hooked you no longer need it and can get down to the business of telling your story.

Game of Thrones is a good example concerning nudity in particular.

Because once the 'Look! Boobs!' phase had passed, they relaxed on it significantly and then used nudity sparingly as a story-telling device to shock the viewer.

That happened in True Detective. That scene was talked about for months and then the series eventually fizzled.
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:44 AM   #7
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That happened in True Detective. That scene was talked about for months and then the series eventually fizzled.
I'm not sure which scene you're talking about (the only one I can think of is the long take, which wasn't particularly violent or smutty), but the problem is True Detective took season 1 and dialed it up to 15 on the convoluted scale for season 2. I don't recall either season being more or less violent or vulgar than the other. They returned to form in season 3, but it was basically a remake of season 1.

I think a really good example, at least in terms of nudity, is Shameless. The liberal use of nudity in season 1 compared to any other season is plain as day.

In a general sense, I don't agree that the major players like GoT, Sopranos, The Shield, etc. really changed course much over their respective series. All those listed were essentially the same show from beginning to end, apart from quality and focus. If anything GoT became more violent as the series progressed as it tries to top itself. We'll likely see the same type of thing from series like The Boys; the appeal being grotesque and gory.
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Old 01-09-2021, 01:23 PM   #8
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Does nudity really bring in that many people anymore? I mean, advertisers thought sex sold for years, and hasn't that pretty much been debunked at this point?


But this isn't the 80s or 90s, where the only nudity you would see would be Baby Blue on City TV or finding your dad's Playboys or Penthouse magazines. Nudity is available pretty much everywhere on the internet for free. Who is actually going to watch a mediocre show just to watch some nudity in it? Even if it has a specific actress you want to see, you no longer have to watch the show anymore. You can just find the clips online.
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Old 01-09-2021, 02:01 PM   #9
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Lets face facts, the stuff that made series like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Westworld, Vikings and many many others popular was the amount of Violence and Smut. But over time this stuff always gets toned down from an "R" rating to almost a PG-13 rating.
Not always. Ever watch the series Banshee? They kept up the gratuitous nudity, profanity, and graphic over-the-top violence right up until the end. And it was glorious.
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Old 01-09-2021, 02:06 PM   #10
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Not always. Ever watch the series Banshee? They kept up the gratuitous nudity, profanity, and graphic over-the-top violence right up until the end. And it was glorious.
One of my favourite shows.

But I'd argue that it wasnt gratuitious in any of those categories near the end, and you are slightly incorrect because they had a slight insurrection at the end there by the primary actors because the fights were so brutal on them so they toned it down significantly.

The violence was important to the central theme of the show though, so there was also that.

Same people who are making 'Warrior' which is also awesome.
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Old 01-09-2021, 02:34 PM   #11
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Syndication is the pot-of-gold. Maybe you can get to 100 episodes easier if you tone down the adult content?
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Old 01-09-2021, 02:58 PM   #12
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The other, and more basic, reason would be that violence and nudity could potentially engage an audience.

'Hook' them, if you will.


And once they're hooked you no longer need it and can get down to the business of telling your story.

Game of Thrones is a good example concerning nudity in particular.

Because once the 'Look! Boobs!' phase had passed, they relaxed on it significantly and then used nudity sparingly as a story-telling device to shock the viewer.
Lots of good points made, including Getback's post. But I think it is primarily this. Sex and violence are both attention grabbers.

The first few episodes require character development and plot building - not exactly intriguing stuff. A little titillation to get you through it until the plot is up and running, only makes sense.
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Old 01-09-2021, 03:04 PM   #13
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It’s all on your head. The only notable example is GoT and it was because they got a lot of heat for exploiting sex and having scenes too graphic that were being used to titillate. Then they got woke and it went away for a few seasons. Then they got in trouble again with the Jaime/Cersei sex scene and the sansa rape.

No other shows mentioned are notable for this type of change. Definitely not the Sopranos. It was never known for graphic violence or nudity.

The Alexandra Dadario scene in True Detective might be one of the worst examples of all time. S1 is one of the best seasons ever made and the crappiness of later seasons had nothing to do with Woody tossing her salad.

Funny enough, a different scene involving eating ass was what started the GoT controversy and helped coin the idiotic term “sexposition”. The scene with the two prostitutes in Littlefinger’s brothel while he talked about power.

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Old 01-09-2021, 10:54 PM   #14
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I think posts 2 & 4 from getbak and Locke pretty much nail it.
One other thing I could think of is a combination of screen time and budget.

Typically Season 1 has a smaller cast, less visuals, less sets, less action because of budget.

Often the Season 2 cast remains small and a less ambitious shooting schedule. because the stories were designed for the old budget paradigm.

Once you get to Season 3 you start to see big casts, more sets, more action, and it eats up screen time, because you have to let more people talk in the episode and you can go to more places, you don't need to keep the audience engaged in a 4 minute bedroom scene to fill the time, so there is less need to flash some boob.
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Old 01-12-2021, 12:44 PM   #15
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Not always. Ever watch the series Banshee? They kept up the gratuitous nudity, profanity, and graphic over-the-top violence right up until the end. And it was glorious.
Spartacus is another one that kept it going IIRC
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Old 01-12-2021, 01:57 PM   #16
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Lets face facts, the stuff that made series like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Westworld, Vikings and many many others popular was the amount of Violence and Smut. But over time this stuff always gets toned down from an "R" rating to almost a PG-13 rating.

Anyone else notice this? And why would they do this?
I'm looking at you Shameless
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Old 01-12-2021, 02:19 PM   #17
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That happened in True Detective. That scene was talked about for months and then the series eventually fizzled.
I performed research on this for reasons of scientific analysis, and determined that either I'm extremely desensitized, or True Detective fans are super sheltered prudes from the 1960's.
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Old 01-12-2021, 05:31 PM   #18
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First you sell the sizzle (Violence, nudity, sex, fast cars and smoking)


Then you hook the rubes


Then you sell a piece of chicken friend steak and take away the sizzle.
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