Amazon Prime TV Shows
Amazon’s status as a sales and television giant is no secret, but what is less obvious is the complacency with which it treats video content and ratings.
Amazon Prime, a service offering unlimited television streaming to members, brings these shows directly into millions of American homes every day, many of them produced by Amazon itself. Unfortunately, Amazon often produces original programming portraying gratuitous nudity, graphic sexual acts, and even graphic depictions of sexual assault. Many of Amazon’s most popular and most heavily-advertised original shows are rated TV-MA (mature audiences only) frequently containing graphic sex scenes, nudity, and violence. Amazon contributes to a culture of toxic sexual pressure in the media industry by producing content that requires actors to do nude scenes.
While streaming can often provide hours of quality family entertainment, a recent analysis by NCOSE’s team of 115 third-party reviews by Common Sense Media of TV shows exclusively owned by Amazon indicated that Amazon Studios has several problems:
Extensive Objectification and Exploitation of Women in Original Content
Though Amazon original content shows employ diverse themes, span through time and space, and explore various genres, they seem to have one common denominator—nudity. Amazon is clearly no stranger to the economic benefits of nudity in media, which they have included in 66% of their original series. That’s right, according to third-party reviews, two out of every three Amazon original series will at some point display nudity. What perhaps is most striking in this statistic is the blatant sexism that the referenced objectification follows. An astronomical 87% of cases incorporated female nudity, whereas male nudity was found in only 13%. This is a common trend in pornographic material, as objectification often disproportionately targets women.
The second observation made clear in Amazon-exclusive content was the complacent ambiguity with which Amazon treats its rating system.
Amazon patterns ratings for their shows after the TV Organization TV Parental Guides to create four rating categories—General, Family, Teen, and Mature. With the use of these categories, however, comes a crucial omission. TV Organization TV Parental Guides include content labels to warn parents of what may be included in the show. Recall the little black box in the corner of the screen of TV shows—a rating is posted, and underneath letters indicating content (for example, D for suggestive dialogue, V for violence, and S for sexual situations).
Amazon does not provide adequate content warnings. Not only this, but they provide no information whatsoever on their site regarding reasons for ratings. This means that a TV-MA series could feature anything from “crude or indecent language” to “explicit sexual activity”, but which of these actually exists on the show remains a mystery.
In other words, a parent approving a series for a teenage child will have no indication as to whether said child will be exposed to “indecent language” or a full-blown sex scene complete with extensive nudity.
The only option for parents in such a predicament would be to visit separate sites such as Common Sense Media to read reviews written by other parents; however, much of Amazon’s exclusive content cannot be found on such sites.
A sampling of Amazon Prime content that includes graphic sexual content:
- When Night Is Falling originally received an NC-17 rating for its graphic sex scenes
- Obsession (2015) has an unrated, sexually graphic version streaming on Amazon Prime
- Bound (2015) is on Amazon Prime and often described as softcore porn by reviewers
- The Handmaiden (2016) is on Amazon Prime and is unrated though the sex scenes would have required a NC-17 rating at minimum.
- The Case of Unfaithful Klara (2009)
- Come Undone (2010)
- Extase (2009)