Nudity on TV – art or exploitation?

One of the most controversial, and seemingly frequent, elements a programme can have is nudity – but why is it so popular? Both men and women are getting their kit off these days and appearing in a wide range of shows which now feature high levels of nudity; True Blood (Hello, Mr. Northman!), Dexter, Girls and Game of Thrones are all TV shows that flash the flesh.

michael c. hall shirtless dexter
It’s no surprise that programmes feature an abundance of naked ladies as opposed to naked guys in order to entice audiences to their programmes. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t; but is this an issue? There is no shame in being nude, but is it becoming more frequent to attract attention as opposed to engaging writing? It seems to be more of a case about how people appear nude on television. Often, television programmes will deal with nudity by ‘displaying it in its best light’, if you will. The actors and actresses will be drop-dead gorgeous and pose seductively on a sofa, enticing you to watch. What’s more, they’ll be basked in the best lighting to make everything appear more attractive. Most audiences will know that this isn’t exactly an accurate representation of what most people look like naked – but is this really ok?

The bottom line is it is entertainment, and whilst some audiences may prefer to see less of the naked women and more naked men on our screens, it is important to remind ourselves (and for producers to remind themselves) that arbitrary nudity can often be restrictive to a coherent plot line. Whilst some audiences would love to switch on their favourite programme and see their favourite male/female star cooking their breakfast in the buff, it does beg the question as to why they are doing it. Lena Dunham, (creator and star of Girls) sheds some interesting light on the topic. In a BBC interview, Dunham states she wants the programme to “normalise sex for other people” but that she doesn’t want the sole focus to be put on just the nudity, claiming that when people are “consistently focusing” on how often she is naked, it “prevents people from just being part of the viewing experience”.

So, it would appear that too much talk about nudity can take away from the experience and entertainment of watching a programme. With this in mind, should we simply enjoy watching the programmes we like and switch off the ones we deem too risqué? Whatever the case, nudity is an important aspect of our life and if those acting are comfortable with showing their skin and the viewers at home are comfortable watching them, then perhaps it should be embraced? Nudity is only natural after all.


About Author


melissahaggar As the current VENUE Deputy Editor and former Film Editor, Melissa spends the majority of her free time sobbing over her mountain of MA work or indulging in cinematic outings. A self-professed lover of Gothic & Fantasy genres, Melissa naturally loves Harry Potter, aesthetically pleasing Instagram posts, and classical music. She also really wants to be Jessica Jones.

January 2021
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    Is this author 14 years old with absolutely zero knowledge on music? Has to be. Two out of three songs are irrelevant. Both by shitty bands. Who paid for this?…
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