Welcome to TCA, Casey Bloys. The new HBO Programming president suffered a tough start to Saturday’s Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, when his executive session was filled with questions about rape and sexual violence towards women on his programs.
Midway through the pay-TV channel’s general Q&A, Bloys was asked the following: “Having seen how ‘The Night Of’ starts and how ‘Westworld’ also starts, do you worry that HBO in-particular or premium cable in general is relying a little heavily on sexual and sexualized violence as a way of scene-setting and stakes-creation?”
“I’d like to not think so,” Bloys replied, citing “Game of Thrones” as an example of an equal-opportunity murder vehicle: “It’s not just specific to women … plenty of men are killed as well.”
That got an “Alllright!” response from the critic, who seemed dissatisfied with the reply.
Her colleague followed up a few questions later: “It’s not about indiscriminate killing, it’s that there seems to be specifically directed sexualized violence as a story tool towards women in these series,” she posed.
“Again, I don’t necessarily see it as specific to women,” Bloys replied.
That second television critic then asked, “So what you’re saying is that eventually we’re going to see the same kind of violence — specifically rape — [towards males]?”
“We’re going to kill everybody,” the top executive quipped.
A few questions later, Eric Deggans tried it out another way.
“I think what they’re getting at is this idea of rape directed towards women … we don’t see that happen to men,” the NPR critic said.
“No, you haven’t seen men being raped. But I guess the point I would make — ‘Game of Thrones,’ for example — men are castrated,” Bloys said. “The violence is pretty extreme on all fronts. I take your point that so far there have not been any male rapes.”
“I think the criticism is valid,” Bloys offered a little bit later, when Deggans again attempted clarification.
That wasn’t the end of the difficult line of questioning.
A fourth member of the media asked Bloys if the reason a “beautiful woman” and not a “hot guy” was so brutally killed on “The Night Of” was because women are creatively underrepresented and the writers’ room is filled with men “stuck in a different time.”
Bloys defended that one by pointing out that executive producer Jane Tranter is a woman. “So, they’re not unrepresented,” the HBO boss said.
“OK, something to think about,” that critic suggested.