Firstly, if you haven’t watched Swedish/Danish crime drama The Bridge, do it now.
There are many reasons why the trendy Scandi noir genre, and this show in particular, completely justify the hype, but here is one reason I haven’t heard talked about.
This is so subtle that I didn’t properly notice it until series two, and I like to think I have an eagle eye for these things. What it comes down to is the simple but innovative way in which The Bridge has approached its sex scenes. As I said, no boobs!
Saga Noren, a character who makes feminists happy in so many ways, likes to have sex. She says so, very bluntly (her bluntness is a thing). And we see her having sex several times: but, each time, she is wearing a vest or t-shirt. Her partner may be naked, but she isn’t. And it’s not as if the Scandinavians are particularly bothered about nudity – in fact, perhaps it’s their lack of juvenile excitement at the prospect of naked boobs that means they don’t bother with them.
The importance of this lack of boobs really comes into focus when you think about pretty much all other TV: in, say, British and US shows a sex scene is always – always – an opportunity for boobs.
Mad Men (www.laweekly.com)
Ripper Street (www.horrorpedia.com)
Game of Thrones. So many to choose from… (www.organiconcrete.com)
The only exception I can easily think of is Breaking Bad, and I reckon that’s because Skyler is pregnant for much of it, so her boobs would make people feel uncomfortable.
The images above are the kind of TV we are used to, in which sex scenes are often gratuitous and always an excuse show some boobs: whether the sex is significant to plot or character development tends to be a minor concern. This is not the case in The Bridge, which deliberately avoids the boobs to make sure that Saga’s character development really is what’s important.
And this is the way forward. The Bridge proves that you don’t need sex or boobs to make people tune in: people are raving about the plot, the dialogue, the atmosphere and the amazingness of Saga’s character. The fact that she is actually really hot doesn’t get much attention, because that’s the least interesting aspect of the show. And that’s just it – as soon as women/female characters are given a chance to show how interesting they can be, they step up. Of course they do. It shouldn’t seem so revolutionary to say that boobs are one of the least interesting aspects of women.
Go and watch The Bridge now. If you’ve seen it, then have a go at Googling TV sex scenes and tell me which ones I’ve missed, either with boob or no boob…