Is HBO Max Breaking the Full-Frontal Taboo?

Sunday January 23, 2022
Originally published on January 22, 2022

And just like that, "And Just Like That" entered the full-frontal game. On the eighth episode of the HBO Max sequel to "Sex and the City," there were two moments exposed penises. The first came when Charlotte went to give head to her husband Harry when their 15-year old daughter Rose interrupts. In the shot, actor Evan Handler's penis flops out.

The second moment came later in the episode when Carrie Bradshaw dropped a gift off at her downstairs neighbor's apartment only to be greeted by the woman's hunky bf (Corey Saucier) in a towel, which at one point drops away to reveal him full frontal.

What both these moments needed was a tart comment by Samantha Jones, but that's another story.

And the moment only brought to mind that more and more penises are being seen on television and films. Even mainstream director Judd Apatow wants to normalize penises being shown in media. "America fears the penis, and that's something I'm going to help them get over," he told hollywood.com in 2007). "I'm going to get a penis in every movie I do from now on." 

Thanks to HBO and HBO Max, there have been a number of series in which penises are seen. And some are even erect — the final taboo.

'Watchmen'

One of the most celebrated full-frontal scenes came on the sci-fi/fantasy series "Watchmen," in which actor Yahya Abdul Mateen II appeared as the blue and very well-hung Dr. Manhattan. The actor was sanguine when talking about his nude scene to W Magazine: "When you're naked and painted blue, you don't have the energy to care about other things. I studied the character beforehand, I did a few pushups, and then I took off the robe.. Being naked and having the audacity to be Doctor Manhattan, who runs the galaxy, was very freeing."

Follow this link to the Mr. Man site for scenes from the show

'Industry'

Somewhat lost in the din of binge-worthy television was this British series that followed a group of wannabe investment bankers experiencing the rigors of apprenticeship at a prestigious London firm. The casual sex was prevalent, often centered around Harry Lawtey, who plays an ambitious, if always randy working class lad who has sex with anyone within arm's reach. Perhaps his most jaw-dropping scene occurred when he was being jerked off by  Yasmin (Marisa Abela), a female colleague in a men's room, and explodes on the nearby mirror. But actor Jonathan Barnwell, who plays Yasmin's boyfriend, gave him a run for his money in another provocative scene in which he casually saunters in naked, lifts Yasmin onto a kitchen counter and has oral sex with her.

Follow this link to the Mr. Man site for scenes from the show.

'We Are Who We Are'

Despite excellent reviews, Luca Guadagnino's coming-of-age drama "We Are Who We Are" didn't catch on in the United States. It could have the subtitles, or Guadagnino's lackadaisical story-telling; whatever the reason, the show was a visceral account of a teenage pair coming to terms with their identity. For 14-year old Fraser, played Jack Dylan Grazer, part of that journey begins when he spies a nude soldier (Israeli actor Tom Mercier) in the shower and its impact upon him. As the show continues, the pair become unlikely friends, if in part to the unspoken sexual attraction between them.

Follow this link to the Mr. Man site for scenes from the show

'Succession'

What has made "Succession" such a wicked delight is the character of Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin), the youngest of the four siblings rivaling for control of the vast media empire run by their aging dad, Logan (Brian Cox). Roman has a ruthlessness that would make him a good fit to take over, but he is done in by his juvenile antics, such as his flirting relationship with the corporation's general counsel Gerri Kellman (J Smith-Cameron). This came to a head on the second season's penultimate episode when Roman inadvertently shared a dick pic aimed at Gerri with his father at the very moment he had won his favor. Needless, to say the dick pic deflated any good will, only proving that while Roman may lack Big Dick Energy, he has plenty of Big Prick Energy.

Follow this link to the Mr. Man site for scenes from the show

'Scenes from a Marriage'

Besides its posh trappings — an American adaptation of an acclaimed Ingmar Bergman drama with A-listers Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac, this miniseries barely registered with audience. It may be best-remembered for a sex scene between the couple in which Isaac went full frontal while with Chastain than in the shower. "It isn't clear whether Isaac resorted to penile prosthetics or not, but the Internet appreciated what they saw, that's for sure. In fact, they've enjoyed it so much that Isaac trended on Twitter for that one, single scene," reported the website The Things.

Follow this link to the Mr. Man site for scenes from the show

'The Righteous Gemstones'

"Dicks abound in HBO's new megachurch satire 'The Righteous Gemstones,' wrote Slate when the show premiered in 2019. "There is an episode that has about six dicks in it," actress Edi Patterson told a Variety reporter in July, 2019. On the show, Patterson plays one of three siblings who work for the Christian ministry of father John Goodman, along with Danny McBride and Adam DeVine. One of the show's memes concerns DeVine's possible gay relationship with Keefe Chambers (Tony Cavalero), a mullet-wearing, body-builder whom he rescues from a Satanic cult in the first season's final episode. In the scene, Cavalero is dressed in a red latex suit with a scuba mask while submerged in a tub filled with white liquid. And, yes, he penis is exposed. In another comic moment, the siblings encounter Cavalero wearing just a t-shirt that leaves part of his penis exposed.

Follow this link to the Mr. Man site for scenes from the show

'The White Lotus'

HBO Max's summer hit "The White Lotus" is best-remembered for a sex scene that did not feature any full-frontal. Rather it was the rimming scene between Murray Bartlett and Lukas Gage when they were interrupted during drug-fueled sex. Recently, Gage went on Andy Cohen to advocate the normalization of rimming in films and television. Earlier on the show, there was an uncomfortable full frontal moment when Mark (Steve Zahn), one of the show's privileged tourists, showed his penis and enlarged scrotum to his wife (Connie Britton). In an interview with Men's Health, Zahn said he told show's show runner Mike White: "'You don't want full frontal, right?' He's like, 'No, no, we're going to use a prosthetic.' I was like, 'Oh, okay, cool.' And then I had to approve it. 'Is this good?' I'm like, 'Yeah, it's fine. Great.'" It was announced this week that the series second season will take place at an exclusive Sicilian resort.

Follow this link to the Mr. Man site for scenes from the show

'Euphoria'

If any series has pushed the full-frontal taboo, it is Sam Levinson's gritty look at the teenage life, which recently began its second season. The show pushed boundaries last season with a locker room filled with naked male teens, then this year went to the place that has rarely been seen on television: erect penises. The first occurred during an early scene during a "Sopranos"-like sequence when a mob wife interrupts her husband (Philip Ursino) having sex and shoots him. Then in Episode Two, actor Brock O'Hurn plays Super Hot Warrior Man, a fantasy figure of Kat's (Barbie Ferreira) imagination, who in her dream disposes of her bf with a sword, then says he's going to use a different kind of sword on her, before revealing his erect penis. But what is likely the most talked-about full frontal this season belongs to actor Ansel Wolf Pierce, who became a meme when he briefly exposed his rather ample piece in the season's first episode, accompanied with a now classic line.

Follow this link to the Mr. Man site for scenes from the show