The third episode of Bonding has the least to do with BDSM so far.
Tiff and Pete struggle with their inhibitions. Tiff avoids giving a class presentation on why she wants to be a psychiatrist, while the jock-ish guy who has been flirting with her gives a heartfelt, vulnerable speech. Meanwhile, Pete still hasn’t called the guy who gave him his number.
Pete backs out of going on the stand-up stage. Tiff gets him to admit that he’s turned on by feet, and says that arousal helps people “zombie out”. She takes him back to the dungeon and gets him to do his stand-up routine in front of the staff and clients.
Tiff’s professor speaks about the emotional hazards of psychotherapy and the necessity of distance and control, while hypocritically flirting with her and another female student.
Bonding is a dramedy TV series, launched in 2019. (IMDB)
Tiff, a grad student who works as a pro domme, recruits her friend Pete as her driver and assistant. Pete, a milquetoast, sexually inexperienced gay man and would-be stand-up comedian, is our window into this world. He is overwhelmed and confused with this new underworld, though that seems to be his response to everything. We see his discomfort with his roommate’s sex life and his inability to go on stage as a comedian.
POSE is a drama series set in the ballroom culture of New York City, set in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In contrast to the beauty and glamour of the ballroom scene, the performers (mostly poor, non-white, and queer/trans) make their livings through work of varying legality. The second season features a plotline about working as a pro domme.
iZombie, “Spanking the Zombie”, aired May 2, 2017 IMDB
iZombie is a TV series about a world in which an infectious disease gives people a craving for brains, though some can retain their human intelligence and appearance. The protagonist is Olivia “Liv” Moore, a police forensic scientist who investigates murders by literally eating the brains of the victims and inheriting their memories and personalities temporarily.
In this episode, the victim is Roxanne Greer, who worked as a pro dominatrix known as Sweet Lady Pain. This is literally all we know about her. Even though Liv has access to some of her memories and behaviours, all we see is a few visions of her interacting with clients. We learn nothing else about her, not her family, her background, how and why she got into this business, what she thinks of the work or the men she sees, or what she is like when she’s not being a dominatrix.
“Miss Rebecca Thrall”, aired October 11, 2017 IMDB
The main plot of “Miss Rebecca Thrall” concerns a scheme by Waterday Financial to take out life insurance policies on poor people, and then bribe police officers with loans to kill them, and collect the money.
The main agent of this operation is Miss Rebecca Thrall (played by Sarah Wynter) who negotiates with both the victims and the killers. She also keeps a man in a full rubber suit and hood bound to a St. Andrew’s cross in her basement.
Sex and the City S02E12, “La Douleur Exquise!”, aired August 22nd, 1999 IMDB Title translates to “the exquisite pain”
Sex and the City was a popular dramedy series about single women in New York City around the turn of the millennium.
The opening narration of this episode makes it clear that BDSM is just another aesthetic to be adopted, consumed, and abandoned, befitting the series’ consumerist ethos.
Carrie (vo) “New York City restaurants are always looking for the next new angle to grab that elusive and somewhat jaded Manhattan palate. Last year it was fusion Cajun. Last month it was mussels from Brussels. And tonight, it’s S&M.”
Bones S10E03, “The Purging of the Pundit”, aired October 9, 2014 IMDB
Unlike in the previous Bones episode, “The Girl in the Fridge”, BDSM is closely integrated into both the mystery and Booth’s character arc in “The Purging of the Pundit”.
Forensic procedurals are all about the puzzle, and in this case the victim’s masochism provides the puzzle. The body of a right-wing media figure, “Hutch” Whitehouse, is found partially consumed by animals. His corpse shows signs of being bound and tortured, including repeatedly struck in the testicles, but it also appears to be consensual.
Fuentes: “It’s like he was enjoying being murdered.”
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.”