Does This Need Tits?: A Beginner’s Guide

by thethreepennyguignol

We’ve all been there. You’re a TV writer/director and you need to turn in a script, but there’s a little something missing. Action? No, you’ve got that. Drama? That’s ticked off too. Dragons? I mean, yeah, probably that as well. Aha! You’ve got it. This is a TV show with women in it, and that means you need to cram in some topless scenes and jiggle some titties in the face of your audience.

BUT WAIT! What if, perhaps, your reasons for wanting to flash some boob were less than completely plot-worthy and airtight? How would Earth would you know? What would you do?! Fear ye not: I’ve put together a simple list to help you decide whether you need to strip every one of your conventionally attractive adult lead actresses to the waist at least three times a season or if maybe you’re just being a pandering sexist asshole fuck you The Americans why do you let me down when I love you so much. To the list!

Question One: Do these tits say anything about the character at hand?

Perhaps these breasts show surgery scars, indicating a past that we may not have known before. Maybe they’ve got the characters entire third-season arc tattooed on them in giant letters and this is the only way you can think to underline it. If these tits are, however, in the broad range of normal tittery and indicate nothing about the character, then there’s really no need to show them to the audience unless you’re trying to share some boob-ogling with your hypothetical viewers. Which you would never do, right? You’re a serious writer who makes serious shows and doesn’t just pander to cheap nudity. You’re better than that.

Question Two: Is this a situation where someone might normally be naked?

Maybe you’re writing a scene where someone would generally be undressed, and that’s why you want to feature someone without clothes. That’s totally fine! Follow-up question: does anything change about the scene if you don’t directly show the T&A of the character at hand? Are you concerned your audience may assume the character is wearing an off-the-shoulder full-length dress that’s just out of shot? Follow-up-follow-up: how stupid do you think your audience is?

Question Three: In this exact same scenario, how would you depict a man?

If you were writing this scene and it featured a man, how would you shoot it? Would you pan slowly over his nude body? How naked would you have him? Would he be framed, lit, and shot like someone had their other hand on their genitals? Maybe he would. But let’s be real here: the ratio of Naked Men for Delightful Viewing is really limited to, like, Hannibal and Outlander, while women get the short end of the boner over and over and over and over and over and over again when it comes to having their bodies thrust forward for consumption. If you wouldn’t feel the need to have a male character in the state of undress in the same scenario, maybe you could get away with giving her a bra and some knickers, huh?

Question Four: Are you trying to critique objectification?

*staring pointedly at Ex Machina* Objectification is a hot take in pop culture right now, and as a result, a lot of people are trying to tell stories that critique it. And it’s hard to critique something with actually showing it, right? How are you meant to establish what you don’t like about it if you can’t show it? And this is a hard one, and finding the line between gratuitous and necessary is difficult. But I can tell you for certain that nobody’s going to be able to take your critique seriously if you just end up cramming your product wall-to-wall nudity of the kind that we already have a bunch of (ie, featuring a conventionally attractive thin women). You can’t critique objectification by tacitly upholding the standards it establishes, and that means limiting those panning shots over the naked bodies of sexy naked ladies.

And that’s us! I hope this has helped you decide whether to include tits in the piece of media you’re creating. And that probably, realistically, you don’t, and if you stick it in there anyway, you should at least accept that you’re doing it because you just want to stare at some boobs.

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