Maggie Gyllenhaal has revealed what it takes to get a realistic female orgasm on screen.
The female orgasm is a wondrous thing. It makes our seretonin levels soar, gives us a 48 hour afterglow and can happen multiple times in a single steamy sitting - one of the small wins we have over our male counterparts.
But although it’s pretty fabulous just as is, thanks to the hyper-sexualised way that women have always been portrayed in society and in the media, it tends to be taken to Meg Ryan-style heights of ridiculousness when being acted out on screen.
One TV show that is particularly known for doing this is The Deuce. Set in 1970s New York, the plot revolves around the thriving porn industry and follows the life of Candy, a prostitute working around Times Square played by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Now, you could argue that a series featuring prostitution and showing the production of porn is bound to show a lot of fake female orgasms, ramped up in enthusiasm for the purpose of the metaphorical viewers, or clients.
But Gyllenhaal, who also works as a producer on the show, has revealed in a roundtable conducted by The Hollywood Reporter that she had become frustrated with how women having sex was being depicted on the show - and wanted to do something about it.
Speaking at the roundtable she said: “In our show there is lots of prostitution, lots of transactional sex, lots of fake orgasms.
“They’re not called fake orgasms, but you cut in on the end of a sex act between a sex worker and a John and you hear this loud orgasm, and I said to David Simon, the man running our show, ‘I think you need to see a real feminine orgasm in order to show the contrast and to show that these are performative. It will illuminate the misogyny and the performance and all that stuff.’”
She continued to explain how, after pressing the issue, a scene was written into the show to give a realistic portrayal of a woman orgasming.
“When I first said it to him, he pretended to spit his water back in his cup. But then he wrote a scene where my character is sleeping with somebody whom she actually wants to sleep with. He doesn’t make her come, and so she turns over and makes herself come.
“I was like, ‘This orgasm needs to be the realest orgasm ever. This needs to be one that takes 30 seconds, that’s very quiet, that’s just about her.’ I thought about it, and then I went in and did that on TV. And that’s way more vulnerable than the orgasm that’s the performance.”
That’s really where our story should end, but incredulously, even after the scene being written, directed and acted, it was still cut from the final version of the episode.
Gyllenhaal recalled her upset after learning that the scene had been removed, and felt so strongly that she wrote a “dissertation by email” asking for it to be put back in.
After waking up at 6am to check if her fellow producers had seen and responded to her email, she says: “the second I got to set, I was like, ‘Where is the orgasm?’ I explained to them again why they needed it in. And they put it in.”
Although it’s frustrating how hard Gyllenhaal had to fight to have this scene included, we’re bloody glad she did.