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Climax of scene in HBO’s ‘Girls’ a shocker

Sunday's episode of HBO's "Girls" took envelope pushing to the next level.
(HBO)

HBO’s “Girls” is known for its frank and daring portrayal of four friends struggling in life and love.

But Sunday’s episode was graphic even for those fans used to seeing creator and star Lena Dunham’s no-holds-barred approach to story-telling.

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The scene in question featured the character of Adam (Adam Driver) having rough sex with his new girlfriend Natalia (Shiri Appleby). It ended with a shot of his bodily fluid on her chest.

This was not a first for cable TV, or the movies. An episode of HBO’s “Sex and the City” showed fluid but played it for laughs, as did a well-known scene featuring Cameron Diaz in the comedy “There’s Something About Mary.”

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However, this time it was a jarring end to a violent and hard-to-watch scene. Even theatrical movies with sexually explicit material and adult pay-per-view channels typically steer clear of such displays, especially if it’s not for comic relief.

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Asked about the scene, an HBO spokeswoman said, “‘Girls’ has a raw honesty that viewers appreciate.” In a prepared statement, she added, “This is nothing more than use of props.” She declined to respond to questions about whether there had been any debate at the channel or the show over whether the scene might be going too far.

To younger viewers, who have been exposed to graphic sexual images via the Internet for years, any concern over the scene might be seen as much ado about nothing. On social media, the scene was talked about -- but not as much as a scene in which Dunham’s character Hannah injures her ear with a Q-tip. The reaction may be an indication of “an increasingly desensitized audience,” said Ben Carlson, co-creator and president of Fizziology, a firm that analyzes social media to gauge audience sentiment.

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But to this reporter, it was a boundary crossed and more than just a use of props.

ALSO:

Allison Williams comes of age on ‘Girls’

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Lena Dunham finds humor in uncomfortable truths

Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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