Some films and TV episodes at least play lip service to the idea of BDSM being a consensual and healthy sexual variation. Others, like this one, don’t even bother.
This time the deceased is a man found buried in the woods, his feet cut off and buried separately as is done with dead champion racehorses. (The forensics techs refer to him as “Mister Ed”.) This and other evidence lead Booth and Brennan to a ponyplay convention at a ranch near the body site.
Going Under is a 2004 drama film directed by Eric Werthman and written by Werthman and Jessica Gohlke. IMDB
Peter (Roger Rees), a married therapist, regularly sees a pro dominatrix, Suzanne (Geno Lechner), with the permission of his wife. On a summer when Peter’s wife is out of town and Suzanne has quit the business, they try to form a romantic relationship outside the dungeon.
Bones S01E08 “The Girl in the Fridge”, aired November 29, 2005 IMDB
Bones is another forensic investigation procedural TV series.
The case begins with the discovery of a decayed skeleton in an abandoned refrigerator. The forensic anthropologists determine that the deceased is a missing young woman, Maggie Schilling, who was held for ransom, but then the kidnappers broke off communication. She also had a condition that made her bones brittle, particularly stress fractures in her wrists.
The series’ protagonist, Dr. Temperance Brennan, says:
“She did fight, Michael. They kept her tied up like an animal. But she fought. That’s how she got those stress fractures, because she was bound and struggling.”
Eurotrip is a very parochial movie, with the American teens treating Europe as if it is a terrifying land of threatening depravity. The plot itself is premised on heterosexual gay panic: the protagonist doesn’t realize that he has become email pals with a German girl and thinks a man is propositioning him. When he realizes his mistake, he goes on a trip with some friends across Europe to find his love and make amends.
Much of the comedy is the characters attempting and failing to enjoy European pleasures supposedly forbidden in puritanical America. (Two of the “vices”, cannabis and absinthe, are now mostly legal in the USA.)
Family Guy, episode S02E14 “Let’s go to the hop”, aired June 6, 2000. IMDB
This is the episode of Family Guy with the infamous “your safeword is banana” scene.
The town of Quahog goes into a moral panic about teenagers licking psychedelic toads. Lois and Peter discover a toad in the laundry, and their daughter Meg confesses to holding it to curry favor with the popular kids.
That night in their bedroom, Peter and Lois talk about their fears regarding their kids while putting on fetish wear. Peter says he will talk to the school principal.
Peter’s “plan” is to infiltrate the school as a student, “Lando Griffin.” He solves the toad-licking problem with a musical number, and blunders into becoming the most popular guy in school. Most of the rest of the episode is Peter’s conflict between chasing highschool popularity and looking after Meg. The real underlying problem is the highschool social hierarchy, and the toads are just a symptom.
Perhaps inadvertently, Family Guy provided one of the most non-judgmental depictions of BDSM in mainstream media. Peter and Lois’ conversation about their kids and drugs is played straight. It’s the kind of thing a married couple with teenagers would talk about while getting ready for a scene. It’s just something they do together for fun.
You could interpret this scene to say that Peter and Lois are hypocrites for their panic over drugs while they indulge in kink, but that only works if you view kink as a problem. Showing them smoking a joint together would be a more pointed critique, but might not be allowed on television.
CSI:NY S01E16 “Hush”, aired February 23, 2005 IMDB
Yet another dead naked woman in bondage. CSIs Aiden and Danny investigate.
It turns out that the deceased was strapped to a device on the front of a speeding pickup truck, House of Gord-style. The truck collided with a tree, killing her.
An abandoned truck found nearby has a strange device mounted on the front, which includes a label saying, “Place Shoulders Here”. This includes a device with a red button. The truck contains a bag with a latex bodysuit, a ball gag with teeth impressions, and straps.
Episode S05E01 “Carly Summers”, aired November 1, 2007 IMDB
Nip/Tuck is a drama series focused on a pair of cosmetic surgeons. In the season 5 opener, Doctor Sean McNamara and Doctor Christian Troy have just relocated from Miami to Los Angeles and opened a new practice.
One of their first clients is Bob Easton, a high-powered studio exec. He wants them to cover up the bite marks on his chest.
The L Word was a night-time soap about a group of lesbian and bisexual women in West Hollywood, with multiple continuing storylines.
“Loud and Proud” is centered on Pride Weekend in LA. In the previous season, Jenny arrived in West Hollywood and began exploring her sexuality, which caused some complications with her boyfriend. Jenny broke up with him and joined the other characters.
The cold-open shows two women having a BDSM session, in the red-on-black color scheme we will see repeatedly in this episode. The bottom is cuffed to a St. Andrew’s cross. There’s no nudity, and only a couple of light impacts with a flogger.
The top says, “I’m going to give you a minute to think about how badly you want me to fuck you.”
“Slaves” treads some of the same ground as “Stocks & Bondage”, earlier in the first season, as the primary antagonist is a man who psychologically controls multiple women. In this case, there is no financial element to the crimes.
A street vendor turns in a note asking for help from an unknown woman. The detectives track down the woman named in the note, the aunt of a Romanian immigrant woman, Elena. It would have ended there, but the aunt turns up murdered.
Legend of the Seeker (IMDB) is a 2008 fantasy television series based on the Sword of Truth novel series by Terry Goodkind. It’s pretty boilerplate, hero’s journey, high fantasy.
Legend of the Seeker shares some production staff with the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, and the Spartacus TV series, which frequently hinted at or showed various forms of queer or kinky sexuality. In turn, those series are descendants of the sword-and-sorcery genre of fiction, which frequently referenced sadomasochistic sexuality. E.g. the covers of the 1930s pulp Weird Tales by Margaret Brundage.
Unlike most of the media we’ve explored so far, Legend is set in a fantasy world of magic and strange creatures. Therefore, we should hold it to different standards of realism and consent.