HBO is making another major change to evolve with the times. After hiring an “intimacy coordinator” to oversee intimate sex scenes on the drama series The Deuce, the Home Box Office network has decided to incorporate the new role across the board. Now “all HBO programs with intimate scenes will be staffed by an intimacy coordinator,” the company confirmed this week.
Rolling Stone was the first to report the news in an article about The Deuce, wherein actress Emily Meade felt uncomfortable with the sex scenes she had to perform in season 1 as her character, rising porn star Lori. So she went to HBO to demand an advocate for her to be present on set.
Alicia Rodis, found through Intimacy Directors International, became HBO’s first intimacy coordinator on season 2.
“Her job is to facilitate the filming of simulated sex and intimacy in such a way that we’re protecting the emotions and the dignity of everybody who’s involved. ’Cause it’s hard work, a lot harder than violence,” showrunner David Simon said in September. “You know, everyone’s an old pro about simulating violence. But I don’t think I’m ever going to work without an intimacy coordinator again. Because the truth is, we knew we were asking a lot of actors and directors and crew in terms of professionalism and to deliver this material bluntly and honestly. But you can ask all you want — at a certain point everybody has to trust everybody.”
Rodis now tells Rolling Stone she’s present on sets to make sure “consent is informed and certain before we move forward.”
“I am here to give a voice to actors, especially actors who feel like they don’t have one,” she added. “And I’m also here for the producers, to make sure that they know they’re doing their best to make sure the set is safe. Here we are a year after #MeToo and Brett Kavanaugh sits on the Supreme Court. Donald Trump is our president. Now, tell me we don’t need this — that we don’t have a culture that needs to still be changed.”
HBO previously took action when the topic of pay disparity between male and female actors came to the forefront, and the network since promised to rectify the situation. Westworld‘s Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood confirmed they are both getting pay bumps for season 3 to make their earnings equal to that of their male costars. But the #MeToo and Times Up movements are about more than just pay disparity.
Many have addressed the abundance of nude scenes on television over the years, especially HBO. Emilia Clarke said of her nude scenes on Game of Thrones in 2015, “In drama, if a nude scene forwards a story or is shot in a way that adds insight into characters, I’m perfectly fine with it. Sometimes explicit scenes are required and make sense for the characters/story, as they do in Westeros. If it’s gratuitous for gratuitous sake, then I will discuss with a director on how to make it more subtle. In either case, like a good Mother of Dragons, I’m always in control.”
More recently, Evangeline Lilly spoke out about how “mortified and trembling” she felt filming a partially nude scene for ABC’s Lost, to which the producers said they “remain deeply and sincerely sorry.”
“With all of the conversations that have started with the Times Up movement, I think most people were asking what our parts have been in perpetuating the problems in this industry,” Meade said during a conversation posted to HBO’s website. “People in this industry, especially women, never thought it was an option to discuss their boundaries, or what makes them uncomfortable.”