(Spoiler alert: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen the premiere episode of “Sharp Objects.”)
If you didn’t read Gillian Flynn’s debut novel, but tuned in for HBO’s adaptation of said novel, then you may not have been entirely prepared for the final scene reveal in Sunday’s premiere of “Sharp Objects”: Camille Preaker’s (Amy Adams) body, covered in scars from years of cutting words into her skin.
The new limited series’ first episode aired with this warning as an end card, pointing viewers to additional support: “If you or someone you know struggles with self-harm or substance abuse, please seek help by contacting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 1-800-662-HELP (4357).”
See a grab of Camille’s body here:
It’s a shocking “aha moment” that is not uncovered until well into the thriller, but the topic of self harm is so central to the book and Camille’s character that showrunner Marti Noxon tells TheWrap she wanted to get to it quickly.
However, she also wanted to be “very mindful of how we showed it.”
See, Flynn’s debut novel was published in 2006, long before “trigger warnings” became commonplace and more social responsibility was placed on media and entertainment outlets to respect the possibility that their content could affect viewers in a negative way, psychologically speaking.
And while Noxon is no stranger to dealing with trauma on screen, cutting is still an incredibly taboo topic. So, yes, she told TheWrap she was sensitive to how viewers would be affected by Camille’s self harm and took care to not be “exploitative” when showing the damage.
“And we had to be very mindful of how we showed it and not to be exploitative in any way, but also to be really sensitive to the idea that she is trying through her recovery to actually get to the root of what caused all this,” Noxon said. “What caused those words [on] her skin, so although she could also use a really good therapist — and I would recommend that for anybody [laughs] — I do think that we show it as part of this ecosystem and something that she’s really striving not to do, that it’s not desirable. In fact, the consequences of it are all over the show. That she is not able to live a normal life because of what she did to herself. So you know, she’s going to have to deal with that if she survives this experience.”
Noxon added that, it “helps a lot that Camille is in recovery,” in terms of cutting, at least.
“She may still not be in recovery for her clear drinking problem, but she is not actively hurting herself in that way,” Noxon said. “So you know, we show a lot of what’s shown in the book about her being abstinent but… to me it was symbolic of a kind of pain that she’s gone to these lengths.”
To read about how Noxon approached the premiere’s “aha moment,” head over here.
“Sharp Objects” airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.