The internet was abuzz Thursday, when it was revealed that popular CW drama Reign would release the Director's Cut of its latest episode "The Consummation" so that two sex scenes, cut up by network censors, could see the light of day. After screening the scenes in question, I can honestly say, there's much ado about nothing.
Full disclosure: I didn't watch the original airing of Reign's consummation episode with the lighter versions of these scenes, and unfortunately, the CW has only posted the Director's Cut, so online viewers have no other option than to view the salacious cuts. But with that in mind, is there really anything to write home about in those scenes, being that they are the only option for those who didn't DVR the Thursday night version?
I'm going to go out on a limb and say no. Sure, the scenes are graphic. In the first one, Nostradamus (Rossif Sutherland) has sex with a red-headed woman and before we even see the pair, we're treated to the sighs of a contented woman in a sexual position. Cut to the woman on top of Nostradamus; all we can see is her back and the fact that she is moving in a sexual manner. Quick shots of her back closer up and the back of her head as she throws it back in pleasure follow, and I'm left scratching my head because despite her nude back, this scene doesn't feel much different than any sex scene we've seen on The Vampire Diaries. It's slightly more intimate, but then again, so is this series which doesn't have the benefit of TVD's excessive violence and vampire super speed.
Please note that from this point on, this post includes romantic spoilers from Reign.
In the second scene in question, Mary and Francis have wed and as is required, they are performing the consummation for the court — as Mary witnessed of another bride in the series' pilot episode. Both Francis and Mary are clothed, they've just been married, and they are performing the very thing that started Mary's curiosity from the outset of this series. What could possibly be amiss about this scene?
There is the layer of strange ickiness that comes with it, because while we know these ceremonies took place to ensure that royal unions were "successful," it is a bit strange to watch two wildly amorous characters go at it while their parents watch. And then there's the added strangeness of the king bringing in Francis' romantic rival, Bash, to watch as Mary and Francis kiss and consummate so he can see "what is his and what is not his."
It's certainly an uncomfortable scene filmed with the textbook layer of CW romance, but that's exactly why the scene isn't all that sexual. We can see that the newlyweds are likely having sex because of the motion and because they're in a consummation ceremony, but there are no nearly bare breasts, no real expressions of Mary's intense pleasure (depictions of female pleasure has notoriously proved to be an issue for censors). They're simply pantomiming the title of the episode while Bash watches and we feel awkward, rather than titillated, throughout the scene.
The Parents' Television Council, of course, had something to say about these scenes before they even aired, sending out this statement according to EW:
The CW Network is doing parents no favors by allowing children unfettered access to sexual content from this young adult and teen-targeted show online. It’s appalling that a broadcast network would flaunt broadcast standards in this manner and the network should be condemned for this action … There’s a reason that the CW Network’s own standards department cut the two sex scenes from the broadcast version – they weren’t appropriate for television. So what makes them appropriate to post online where presumably children will be able to watch them with no rating or blocking capability? Nothing. The CW Network should be ashamed.
And while the idea that any network would make truly R-rated content available online without an age restriction does seem a little fishy — especially when we consider that the director's cut is the only version of the episode available on the Reign website — upon seeing the scenes, there is absolutely no reason to fuss or fight the content. Besides, the series has been incredibly sexual from its outset — sex and longing for sex are practically in the logline of each week's new episode, and the scenes are still rather mild. If you're watching this show, this level of sexual exposure is practically requisite.
It's to be expected that the PTC is up in arms, but as for the rest of us, there's really nothing to see here. A highly sexual show had some mild sex scenes that fully comply with FCC rules. Can we move on now?