Look Beyond the Sex!

When people showed me Game Of Throne’s tv show the first time, scandalized at the opening nudity and following sex scenes, I laughed at their innocence.

If there is one thing you will learn about me, it is that I am quite well read in fantasy as long as it isn’t typical ‘high fantasy’ (though I’ve read quite a few of those as well). The books varied throughout my life, but they all had one thing in common: the sex scenes.

Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, I got the normal sex education which mostly consisted of the idea of puberty and hormonal changes rather than details of the down and dirty. Through fantasy books, rather than titillating a young mind, the experience was normalized in a way that I was unable to appreciate at the time.

Each author had a different approach to the act, and, of course, each differed depending on the situation. Within this abundance of consensual sex, the majority was cut-and-dry with the norm being two people in love consummating something beyond my scope of experience.

Then, some time in high school, came one of my favorite books of all time.

Now, I do not want to talk about these books very much yet — mostly because Cheri is currently in the process of reading them. That should be a huge, glaring red flag right there: one of my best friends had not picked up my favorite books of all time for a decade.

I am usually careful about recommending books, making sure that it would interest the person I’m talking to. This rule goes out the door with my favorite books (see my review for Ender’s Shadow here), but this was my first encounter with the idea of sex being a huge barrier to overcome.

My pitch for these particular books usually goes something like this:

There is this great fantasy series you have to read! The protag is a female and super smart and kind of a spy and it is set in an alternate history Europe!

star trek tos nodding
Bones and Kirk from Star Trek TOS nodding

It’s this huge, complex series of plots and intrigue and each character is amazing and fully fleshed out! It’s a little long, but that’s because the plot is so intricate!

house nodding
Dr. House is on board

Oh yeah, there’s a lot of sex and bdsm.

picgifs-pirates-of-the-caribbean-402005
Pirates of the Caribbean’s Jack Sparrow running for his life as his friends contemplate abandoning him.

And that’s where I lose them.

It’s not hard to see why people would be hesitant about reading something that gets pretty explicit and it definitely was unlike anything I had ever read before, but the book is so much more than just sex. There’s no denying that sex plays a huge role in the series (more on this later, I promise! Tell Cheri to read faster; NO SPOILERS), but as I’ve said in my forever failing pitch, the plot is intricate. The writing is beautiful and easy to understand, the ideas are huge and span over time and countries. There is so much that so many people could love…but also lots of sex.

I’ve run into this problem more than once and more than just in books.

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Bad-ass men and women of Spartacus

Spartacus was a series that ran on Starz for four seasons. It is about Roman gladiators and follows the path of one who was punished after being betrayed on a Roman’s whim. This series is a great look at the opulent life that Romans led, based loosely on true events. The intrigue, the plot, and again, the side characters are just amazing. But, as anything mentioning Romans should have, some of the indulgences included copious copulation (I’m on a roll with these alliterations today). This is one of the most moving series that I have watched in recent years. I laughed, I cried, you guys know the drill. But, once again, it is a hard sell.

Not to say that all things with a lot of sex is all going to have deep stories with amazing plots; in fact it is usually the exact opposite as we well know with things like 50 Shades of Grey and romance novels — sometimes folks just want light trysts every five pages — but a series should not be discounted because it has a lot of sex.

With the influx of amazing writers and the wider acceptance of the risque, it is becoming clearer that sex should not be used as a crutch to hide a weak story, but rather should come in the scope of things — to enhance the story. Writers are becoming more daring and the trend seems to follow with media turning to new ideas rather than a new repetition of the old. I find that stories get the most interesting when they include a wider scope of the human experience. Passionate people make good stories, and hey, they have a lot of sex too.

Do you guys have any series that you really love and couldn’t convince other people to read/watch it? Leave it in the comments below and I will! Or tell us about an experience you had where you failed to convince people to read/watch something great. Cheri will be back on Wednesday so keep on keeping on!

-Chebk

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