If you’ve tuned into Netflix’s latest racy offering, Dynasty, you probably saw exactly what was sold to you in the brochure.
A rich, white, American family at each other’s throats over their immense and multi-billion dollar business.
There’s couture clothing, copious amounts of alcohol, backstabbing, private planes, infidelity, secrets and just the right amount of hair pulling. It’s basically the original Dynasty, the popular trashy drama from the 1980’s, re imagined and repackaged for a modern audience.
But as the first episode unfolded on screen, I couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed. After all, this show had come from two of the great creative and visionary minds of our time, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, otherwise known as the team that brought us enduring family TV classics such as Gossip Girl and The OC.
If you missed the first episode of Dynasty, it went a little something like this.
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Sassy heiress Fallon Carrington (Elizabeth Gillies) believes her time has come to take over the role of COO of the family company after her father Blake Carrington summons her home. That is, until she literally walks in on him in a compromising position with a very young, very cunning employee called Cristal. Plot twist, because it turns out that Cristal is actually first in line for the top job at the family company and, to add a cherry to the scandalous family sundae, is also engaged to marry Fallon’s father.
On the whole, nothing about the show’s premise or opening episode seemed to break new ground or tell a new story, except for a very short, blink and you’ll miss it sex scene in the back of a car.
In one of the earlier moments of the show, Fallon alights from her private plane and is greeted by a driver who has arrived on the tarmac to transport her directly to her family’s lavish family compound. Except this set up is no Driving Miss Daisy, with Fallon and driver Michael Culhane (Robert Christopher Riley) immediately making it known that they tend to take part in the kind of activity best left to two consenting adults in possession of birth control.
Although their initial sex scene is brief, it depicts Michael performing oral sex on Fallon. It’s an act that doesn’t and shouldn’t seem noteworthy in the slightest, if it wasn’t for the fact that a woman receiving oral sex on TV is still seen as a little taboo and can even impact show classifications.
In 2013, actress Evan Rachel Wood famously took to Twitter to air her frustrations over the MPAA forcing a cunnilingus scene out of her movie, Charlie Countryman.
"The scene where the two main characters make 'love' was altered because someone felt that seeing a man give a woman oral sex made people 'uncomfortable' but the scenes in which people are murdered by having their heads blown off remained intact and unaltered," she wrote.
Wood also went on to speculate that the scene would not have been cut if it had shown a woman going down on a man. A few years have now passed since that infamous Twitter thread, but things have not gotten a whole lot better.
Even Gossip Girl, a show famous for pushing the boundaries, barely dared to dip a toe into this pool. In fact, in an interview with Vulture to celebrate the show's 10 year anniversary, the show's creators hinted that a scene alluding to female oral sex had been cut, a scene that featured “Chuck taking care of Blair under a table" and while they were unable to shoot the whole scene in the end, they hinted at it once or twice with the couple in a bedroom.
Of course there are many TV shows that have taken this subject matter further and done it better.
In a season three episode of Girls Jessa performs oral sex on her rehab roommate Laura (played by Orange is the New Black star Danielle Brooks), a scene that is intense but not graphic, and is done in a way that doesn't seem like a moment jammed in there for shock value or to appeal to a male audience.
In a recent episode of Younger, season four, the powerhouse known as Diana Trout can be seen unashamedly pushing her boyfriend Richard's head beneath the sheets. It's only a few select, short scenes, that go a long way in changing our perception of sex.
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But the reason why this scene stood out so much on the revamped Dynasty is that this is a show and a genre that doesn't have that a good track record when it comes to women and sex. In fact, in show's such as this, women tend to fall into two buckets. Either they are on camera as an added, sexualised decoration or they are using sex as a way to scheme and pull off a power play to get what they want from a man.
It's very rare that we see a woman consensually engage in an oral sex act on screen and in a way that is not seen as demeaning.
If you look at this scene in that context, Dynasty managed to pull off a sexually empowering, female led scene, in its opening moments.
Even though I'm pretty sure they didn't mean to.
New episodes of Dynasty are dropping weekly on Netflix.
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Stan.
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