There's nothing new in the claim that Game of Thrones' nudity is excessive. We get it, there are bare breasts, and far less occasionally bare pectorals, present in scenes that rarely call for them. It's something Game of Thrones actor Stephen Dillane (Stanis Baratheon) touches on in an interview with the Huffington Post.
"It doesn’t particularly appeal to me, reminds me of German porn from the 1970s," he says. "But I presume it serves a purpose, and the merits of the show far outweigh my concerns on that score." And that second part, in a nutshell is the reason claims of GoT's over-the-top nudity haven't gone all that far.
First off, the nudity (which occurs for both sexes, though as Jon Snow fans know, it does skew female) does serve an actual function: at times, it's part of the story (marriage and relationship consummation plays a large role in the sprawling saga) and when it's not, it serves the purpose of draping the series in the excess of visceral content that is its hallmark.
If the nudity itself (and not its lack of gender balance, which does need an adjustment) is excessive in Game of Thrones then so is the violence, and the number of speeches, and the breadth of characters, the costumes, and everything that ever happens on the HBO series. (Did we forget about the actual, visible bloodshed at the Red Wedding?) Excess is the mode of operation for Game of Thrones — for godsakes it's a series in which the first episode included incest, and one were a woman mothers three dragons while another gives birth to a smoke monster. (And then there's Cercei and her wine, which gives a whole other meaning to excess.)
But beyond that, nudity is not necessarily something to be concerned about simply because it's nudity. Those who've yet to understand that might well listen to Lena Dunham's response to critics (who apparently still exist) of her frequent nudity on Girls: Nudity is part of the human condition, get used to it.
And yes, an actor from the series rightly compared the nude scenes to porn — sometimes it isn't certain whether you're watching HBO or Skinemax during some sex scenes — but suggesting that this somehow makes the series wrong is a very narrow understanding of what erotica can be. Despite the wide pop culture definition, porn and erotica are not exclusively Jenna Jameson specials, and believe it or not there is even such a thing as feminist porn. The word encompasses a lot more than the degrading schlock it's most often associated with.
So depending on how conservative your beliefs are (in which case, there are probably a host of other facets of Game of Thrones that likely don't suit your fancy), finding a series to be porn-like (Sex and the City enjoyed a few similar claims when it first hit HBO) isn't necessarily a terrible thing. Finding a series to be degrading to women in its porn-esque scenes, however, is legitimately terrible, which is why — again — the series' nudity gender balance situation needs to be worked out.
Still, Game of Thrones is somewhat considerate of moving sexual power around from men to women and women to men in the same way that it moves political and social power around at lightning speed. Basically, if the sex on Game of Thrones bothers you, it's probably not because it's out of place — it is sort of part of the package deal. More likely than not, you've got major issues with the rest of the series' excesses as well.
Images: HBO; Tumblr/cersei-wine