I suppose it was inevitable that, given the prominence of (a version of) BDSM after Fifty Shades and the creative opportunities of the golden age of cable TV, somebody would do a BDSM-themed TV series. To be honest, I went into Showtime’s Submission with low expectations.
After all, the very first thing you see in the pilot is a woman’s bare breast being rubbed with ice. We get a maledom-femsub scene, which immediately cuts to a woman being bored with her doggy-style tryst. Dissatisfied, she takes matters into her own hands in the bathroom by herself. This precipitates a breakup that was a long time coming.
Ashley moves in with an old female friend in a small town. There she gets involved with her sexually uninhibited housemates and coworkers, and also reads an erotic novel written by a dominant who lives locally. There’s a bit of metafiction in the interleaving of the fictional sex scenes from the novels with the sexual scenes in the present day.
Some of the performers, notably Skin Diamond as Dylan and Sara Luvv as Maura, come from the porn industry. The show’s creators come from porn as well, which makes it an interesting case of porn-based talent breaking into the mainstream. The lead actress, Ashlynn Yennie, was in not one, but two Human Centipede movies; make of that what you will.
Maybe I’m jaded, but Submission doesn’t break any particularly new ground. All of the sex, so far, is hetero and maledom-femsub. The sex scenes are shot with a pretty standard male gaze, and there’s no frontal male nudity. US cable isn’t ready for dick. It also looks a bit cheap, as if it was shot with the same kind of crew used on porn shoots, in the same kind of generic California mcmansions used for porn shoots.
If you’re expecting a revelation, this isn’t it.