Sex scenes in TV and movies can be awkward for the people getting fake frisky in front of a bunch of gaffers, best boys, and script supervisors (and they are even more awkward if you’re innocently watching a movie with your grandparents and then bam! naked stuff). They can also be uncomfortable if the people involved feel forced into doing the scene, are uncomfortable with what they are asked to do, and don’t feel like they can say no. To make actors and lawyers and everyone in between feel more comfortable during the many, many sex scenes for their down-and-dirty series The Deuce, HBO hired Alicia Rodis as an on-set intimacy coordinator to ensure standards were followed and to make sure there was no abuse. She runs a nonprofit, Intimacy Directors International, and basically works as the sex version of a stunt coordinator, on hand to make sure everything goes safely and according to plan.
The idea to hire Rodis came from The Deuce star Emily Meade, who plays the prostitute-turned-porn star Lori on the show. “I went to the [series] creators…and HBO and told them I’d feel much more comfortable if there was some sort of advocate purely for the sexual scenes,” Meade said in an interview. Rodis’s hiring has made such an impact that, according to Rolling Stone, showrunner David Simon said he would never work without an intimacy coordinator again.
HBO took him at his word and announced in a tweet that they will be rolling out the practice in all its programs, bringing intimacy coordinators on set for any projects with sex scenes. (So, like, every HBO show except Bill Maher’s?) It’s a major step–one that’s long overdue. Hopefully other networks and studios will follow HBO’s lead.