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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Spartacus Effect

I don't know about you guys but I am continually shocked at how graphic television has gotten. I'm not complaining mind you. The sight of sexiness doesn't hurt my delicate eyeballs. The sounds of people making love, having sex, doing the nasty, bumping uglies, knocking boots, getting laid, whatever does not offend me in the slightest. As a matter of fact I find it somewhat cool to be able to follow a storyline all the way into the bedroom/car/back hallway/airport bathroom wherever this sort of activity is taking place, if it helps do something for the actual story that I'm also following.

And, when done well, it really does provide motivation for main characters and adds a little "somethin' somethin'" to the draggiest of plots.

It is my contention that these premium channels (HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax, even A&E to a certain extent) are in some sort of silent race for the raciest....a quest for the highest (or lowest) point of sexual activity one can show and it NOT be labelled as pornography. There are scenes of out and out oral sex (Californication, Banshee), vamp sex with biting and bloodiness (True Blood), sex with minors (Weeds), sex with prostitutes (Deadwood), werewolf sex (True Blood), redneck sex with a "bonus Swinger party!" (Justified although this one is not quite as out there as some), sex while zombies threaten your existence (Walking Dead), 1960's sex (Mad Men), 1930's sex (Boardwalk Empire), fetish sex (Weeds), pimp giving sex lessons to the whores sex (Game of Thrones), gay male sex, plus all kinds of glorious weirdness like sex with your mother-in-law so she can get pregnant PLUS BDSM fun (I LOVE THIS SHOW: Shameless).

But nothing and I mean Nothing with a capital "N" beats one show for out-and-out, show-it-all-why-not, orgies, girl/girl, boy/boy, slave/master (literally), sex as reward, sex as relaxation after a bloody day on the battlefield, sex help from the slaves you NAME it they have DONE it: Spartacus.

Now, I love a good sandals and swords romp. I honestly figured that it would be a one-and-done. I mean, if you know your history, you know that "Spartacus" the man did not live that long. He was a brave gladiator who did a brave thing (burning down his arena while leading a slave rebellion). But honestly? Stretching this thing out 4 or 5 seasons seemed a bit craven and lame. Until I figured out what this show is about.

Yep. You guessed it. Sex. All kinds and forms of it--beautiful, erotic, lovemaking; enthusiastic, jaw-dropping orgies; man love (a lot of this, which gives the show an A+ in my book for veracity); choose your partner parties (which to this day makes me hear "I love quick time harch" in my head). In the very first season there was a scene whereby the Dominus and Domina (yeah, check the roots of THOSE words Oh 50 Shades of Dismay fans) are having a lovely evening together, sharing wine and a meal, chatting about their day watching the yard full of barely dressed, muscular dudes beat the sh*t out of each other for their master's sport, ripping off the townspeople, plotting the downfall of fellow mid-grade managers like themselves--the usual workaday Roman stuff. And as they continue talking they commence getting naked, fairly matter of factly (you would have to turn to straight up porn to see more man-dingle than you do in this show. None of it erect, mind you and alas.). They keep chatting, "Oh the woes of we who lead," sort of stuff as they fall into a bit of cursory gettin' it on. Kind of a "Oh let's have sex before we go to sleep kind of thing, could ya hurry up with that hon?" You know....we've all been there.

BUT.....just as things seems to be moving along at a normal, married couple sex way, the slaves waltz in and start...well, "diddling" their masters is the only word for it. Swear it. Rent the thing and see. It's Lucy Lawless (who is the BEST bad gal ever---too bad she was a Roman and had to go) and that dude from The Mummy and Four Weddings an a Funeral, getting off -- or I guess "finishing off" with a little help from the help.  Yowza.

And the parties that Lucy would throw! Whew. Plus she had the super triple bonus of pretty much having a stable of studlies to choose from when she wanted a little private pony ride.  She chose wisely, in Crixus, but he felt otherwise.

Listen, this thing is many times over the top. They all are (see: Shameless and Californication). We are all sort of numb to this kind of thing anymore so shows like Spartacus are invented to see if they can throw us for a collective "Holy crap can you do that on tv?" sort of loop. And I love it.

What is your favorite over-the-top show? If Spartacus is your cup of amphora-aged wine (like mine 'cause we are just nasty) who is your favorite character? What was your favorite storyline? I LOVED the evil Illythia b*tch.  She was awesomely awful.  I can see the thing is winding down to it's well-known, historically recorded ending. (Spartacus sees the business end of a cross). But lo and behold we have a new hotster this season and his name is: Gaius Julius Caesar.  Yeah. And he is gettin' HIS own show once we move past our nasty, dirty, slave rebellion.
mmmm mmmm mmmmm......rendering unto Caesar never sounded so promising...

Happy watching! (or Happy Endings)

P.S. this show has it's own built in sad story too. The absolutely adorable Andy Whitfield played Spartacus The Original Anger Issues Slave Guy. He was diagnosed with cancer and died about six months after, leaving behind a wife and child.  The new guy Liam something or another is good. But he is no Andy.

p.p.s. Spartacus is also the most egregiously violent thing on tv--fake blood and all. Seriously if you want the full bore "history with the guts, gore and fellatio and a fair bit of cunnilingus and man meat left in", get your paws on this show.

Oh, right, the promo bit: Ahem:
ESSENCE OF TIME, the 4th book in the award winning, top selling Stewart Realty series won another award:
so to celebrate my publisher marked this AMAZING novel (yes, novel) down to just .99 on ALL the usual sites!



It's true, I watch Spartacus. My favorite is Spartacus and I like the new guy. He's got the best laser stare ever. Followed by --can't spell it -- Gatticus? The blond guy who was the gladiator when we lost Andy.

The sex stuff is funny and too much, but the slow mo hacking and slashing is overdone.

And between the sheets, there's some pretty good acting, too.

Harlie Reader said...

I guess I'm not cool because we don't watch these shows. We have DISH but the raunchy factor in our house is at a minimum when it comes to television. Having a 7 yr old kinda puts a damper and what we can watch without him being noisy.

Started watching Vikings so maybe...

We do watch Skinamax when its a free weekend. :)

Liz said...

Oh, I don't think it's a matter of being "cool," just of what I choose to do during the VERY rare time off I have and thank god for On Demand cable! But the level of overt sex is really ramping up, which is the phenomenon that I'm referring to here, and I believe it is spurred on by how raunchy Spartacus gets.

The hacking and slashing is pretty egregious Vicki and I have never been a fan of overt violence. There was one recent episode that was really bad: "Decimation." which taught me the true meaning of THAT Latin based word!

Harlie Reader said...

Maybe not the coolness factor but the amount of sex on television doesn't bother me. Heck when we were growing up we had HBO after dark with Red Shoe Diaries and the stripper show.

Violence bothers me on television though. I have a young son and he is very limited on what he can watch just on the main channels.

Jessica Subject said...

I don't watch any of these shows, but I don't think they are available up here in Canada, unless we pay a fortune. Though not sure if I would watch all of them anyway.

Liz said...

did you guys know that to "decimate" came from the Roman legions' policy to kill "one in ten" of their own, at their own hands as a punishment/lesson? that was god awful.

Liz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz said...

Ok, I'm a freak I guess for enjoying this sort of programming---but it has lit a few inspirational fires for my books I will say and the fact that there is now an openly gay relationship on one of the daytime soaps (which I have not watched since college but that one of my reader fans told me about) also says a lot about what the viewing public will and will not tolerate.

Molly Daniels said...

I LOVE Sparticus:) We have all four seasons on the DVR. Sometimes the blood and torture scenes are too much for me, and I have to turn away, but *licks lips* love Crixus, Gattigas, and even Spartacus' other lead guy, the adorable leader with the dark hair who, unfortunately, bats for the other team.

And yes, Andy is missed. Liam does a great job also, but I've noticed he's more shy about his body. I don't think Liam would have pulled off that scene with Illythria as well as Andy did. *fans self*

And I also don't care for the new girl playing Crixus' gal. Bring back the other one!

Katalina said...

Wonderful post Liz! I love Andy Whitfield. I'm a history buff too and this time period fascinates me. Sadly I don't watch much TV and miss a lot of good stuff. I'm not a TV snob, I just never get to watch it. : (

D.C Stone said...

OMG, love Sparticus. Good timing too, because I watched the DVR show last night. Hate to say it, but I'm looking forward to the romantic by-line working its way into the story. He's so trying to deny it, but then again, I love it when they fall hard. Pun intended. ;)

Liz said...

ha! yeah, I am totally "Team Crixus" and don't like the new girl either...she's annoying. And one scene from season 1 that will NEVER leave my head? Lucretia, riding her some Crixus. She was totally my favorite baddie.

Melissa Keir said...

I don't get to watch much TV. It sounds like a race to push the limit is the new thing.

Naomi Bellina said...

I was totally amazed when I watched Spartacus. Could not believe I was seeing that! No complaints, except the violence was a little over my ick level, but I was warned. Yeah, I love that scene when the happy couple is chatting away and being fondled by the slaves. Some nights, you're just too tired to do all that foreplay yourself. I miss Andy and have yet to see the new guy, but will be checking him out soon. Oh, I liked Weeds for awhile but then it became too much sex for no reason and didn't do it for me anymore. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Liz. You bring up a lot of good points. I don't have cable and don't watch any t.v. I do watch movies but even those have gotten rather... steamy lately if you know what I mean.

Which is why I was totally surprised by Skyfall. There wasn't a lick of sex in it!

Janice Seagraves said...

We don't have cable or dish TV. I know we live in the dark ages.

But, we do buy True Blood when each season is released.


R. Ann Siracusa said...

Liz, I don't watch the show (or much TV at all, for that matter) but historically the Romans weren't exactly "nice" people. They did some pretty kinky things (and probably plotted for overthrowing the emperor at the same time). I loved the article, and I enjoyed Writery's comment about "a lick of sex."

R. Ann Siracusa said...

Liz, I don't watch the show (or much TV at all, for that matter) but historically the Romans weren't exactly "nice" people. They did some pretty kinky things (and probably plotted for overthrowing the emperor at the same time). I loved the article, and I enjoyed Writery's comment about "a lick of sex."

Mary Quast said...

Wow! I really need to start watching more TV!

Marianne Stephens said...

Leaving "over the top" sex" is better left to my imagination...maybe that's why I don't have the premium channels.
Yes, I write sensuous romances, but watching OTT sex isn't as good as reading it.
Yes, I'm weird!

Anonymous said...

I always love your posts, Liz. They make me grin and laugh out loud. As for Spartacus, I haven't watched the Liam as Spartacus version but after your 'man-dingle' endorsement I think I'm going to have to! And congratulations on the award for Essence of Time. The Stewart Realty series is excellent and the win, well deserved. Skoal!

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