May 172020
 

“Escape from the Dungeon!”, aired September 26, 2010

Bored to Death is an American comedy TV series (IMDB) about Jonathan Ames, a struggling writer who moonlights as an “unlicensed private detective”.

In “Escape from the Dungeon!” (S02E01), Jonathan meets Drake, a mounted NYPD officer, who needs his name removed from the hard drive of the BDSM dungeon he frequents before it is raided by the police. He says the dungeon is involved in money laundering, not that it will be raided for sex work charges.

Mistress Florence (Kristen Johnson) is not impressed with Jonathan
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May 102020
 

Episode S01E08, “Denna”, aired January 10, 2009

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. 

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Apr 272020
 

Law & Order: Criminal Intent’s episode “Lost Children of the Blood” aired July 25, 2010

A college student found drained of blood in her dorm room leads Detectives Nichols (Jeff Goldblum) and Stevens (Saffron Burrows) to the underground culture of blood fetishists. 

The victim, Sarah Price, has quotes from Carl Jung and Michel Foucault all over her dorm room. Nichols finds a deluxe copy of Jung’s Red Book. “He [Jung] thought everybody should have a red book. All disturbing thoughts written down and filed away.”

Sarah’s boyfriend Kyle admits that they did go to a club together, and did blood play. 

Kyle: “It was just exploring boundaries. Sarah and I wanted something real and authentic.”

Sarah and Anton
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Apr 182020
 

House is an American TV medical procedural drama. “Love Hurts”, aired May 10, 2005, is the twentieth episode of the first season.

The episode begins with a man in the Emergency Room with what appears to be a stroke. The patient, Harvey (John Cho), also has nominal aphasia (difficulty naming things), as his friend Annette (Christina Cox) explains. 

As Harvey has a metal plate in his jaw from an earlier injury, the doctors can’t do an MRI scan, and have to diagnose with other methods. They also notice oddities like how Harvey enjoys having needles inserted, and how Annette hovers around the patient. Finally, they find Annette in Harvey’s hospital room, apparently strangling him. 

One of the doctors, Chase, explains that she is a dominatrix. 

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Apr 162020
 

Back in 2004, The L Word was a groundbreaking nighttime soap/drama series focusing on a group of lesbians living in Los Angeles. It was actually shot in Vancouver in early seasons.

The producers put out a call through the Vancouver BDSM community for extras and performers for a BDSM party scene in the season 2 finale, “Lacuna“. I signed up, not really expecting to get anywhere, and received the following as a script sample, or “side”.

L-Word-Lacuna-script-fragment-2004

As we can see from the second page, the story reproduces the common belief that being into BDSM is a response to trauma.

I did my best in the audition, but it was my first attempt at acting since high school drama class. I didn’t get the part.

Others have told me that the scene was filmed, but not used. In the aired episode, IIRC, there’s a very brief insert of the party scene and a scene in which two characters tentatively go to a BDSM demo and immediately leave.

Mar 162020
 

Desperate Housewives was a mystery/dramedy TV series concerning a group of four housewives in a suburban neighborhood who attempt to solve the mystery of the death of one of their friends. They also deal with various other challenges to their families.

One of the four wives, Bree (played by Marcia Cross), learns that her husband Rex (played by Steven Culp) has been cheating on her with another married woman, Maisy Gibbons (played by Sharon Lawrence), who is a sex worker and dominatrix. Maisy took this up for money when her husband lost his job.

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Mar 052020
 

Criminal Minds S10E17 “Breath Play” First aired March 11, 2015 IMDB

The second episode of Criminal Minds to deal with BDSM (that I know of) is “Breath Play”.

“Breath Play” treads much of the same ground as the earlier episode “Limelight”, though at least in this case there are actual victims from the beginning. A serial killer is strangling women to death and leaving them tied to their beds. Somehow, the killer is welcomed into the homes of his victims. 

Examining the bodies reveal that the victims were tied to their beds and strangled for hours before their deaths. Dr. Reid speculates, in one of the leaps of logic that seems typical of this series, that this is actually about erotic asphyxiation, or breath play. 

Another crime scene leads of the discovery of an extremely popular erotic novel called Bare Reflections, a knock-off of Fifty Shades of Grey. All of the victims had the book, and the “saucy texts” found on the victim’s phone were direct quotes. However, if the book is that popular, it increases the likelihood that it’s just a coincidence and not the key clue. 

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Feb 122020
 

Queer as Folk (US) S01E15 “Ties that bind” Aired April 1, 2001 IMDB

In most of the TV episodes discussed in this project, BDSM is talked about, and we see the implements and the outfits, but we only rarely see actual play. The US version of Queer as Folk already pushed the envelope of cable television by showing plenty of gay sex, so it was willing to show play too, up to a point.  

It’s the Leather Ball weekend at the fictional Babylon club in Pittsburgh. Friends Ted and Emmett snipe at each other’s wardrobe choices. 

Ted: “I can’t believe you went out in public dressed like that.” 

Emmet: “My mother used to say, find your best feature and play it for all it’s worth. So that’s exactly what I do.” [turns around to reveal he is wearing pants with the butt cutout.] “Besides it’s called a leather ball. You could have at least dressed for the occasion.”

Ted: “I did. I wore a leather belt.” 

Emmet: “You are such a stick in the mud.” 

Ted: “Why, because I don’t want to look like a cross between a Nazi stormtrooper and Roy Rogers?” [eyes a guy in Western-leather gear with a bullwhip]

Emmet: “Stop it, you’re giving me a hard-on.”

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Jan 292020
 

Aired December 4, 1990 IMDB

Another episode bucks the cliche by not opening with the discovery of a dead sex worker. This time it’s a controversial artist named Victor Moore (loosely modeled on Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989), found strangled to death with a noose around his neck, inside his workspace/dungeon. The investigation delves into the sexual fringe and its intersection with the city’s elite. 

Law & Order is usually more thoughtful and less sensational than other procedural shows, and this story does engage with the issues of sadomasochism. 

Greevey, one of the two detectives on the case, is the most prejudiced against Moore and his art. “Some work. If I did stuff like this, I wouldn’t advertise either.”

The detectives question a man who knew the victim casually, but wouldn’t date him. 

Logan: “Let me get this straight. You’re asked out on a date by a guy who published pictures of people hanging upside down in chains. And you’re tempted, but there’s something about him you don’t trust?”

While it’s entirely possible that Moore was coming on creepy to the guy, the Implication is that a person who makes sexually violent art must be dangerous. 

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Jan 152020
 

Criminal Minds S03E13 “Limelight” Aired January 23, 2008 IMDB

Criminal Minds is a police procedural TV series focusing on a FBI unit of criminal profilers. Criminal profiling is a somewhat questionable methodology in reality. 

Unlike a lot of other episodes in this type of show, this episode doesn’t begin with the discovery of a dead sex worker. An abandoned storage locker is opened to reveal a collection of bondage magazines, arty porn shots, and detailed journals about capturing and torturing women, complete with diagrams.

The journals from the storage lockers
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