Spartacus: Blood and Sex

Well I thought True Blood was basically a loosely veiled excuse for graphic sex on television — until I saw Spartacus Blood and Sand, which, as the above promotional  pictures show, is literally the most male-oriented program I have seen in a long time ever. Not to say that I haven’t all but finished the first (and so far only) season, it does keep you watching, but why I’m not sure.

My first impression was that it was 300 in full colour; the fountains of blood alone put it in that category, not to mention the sheer artsyfartsyness. The blood, in fact,was too ridiculous to be taken seriously, until I noticed Sam Raimi‘s name in the credits, which means, of course,  that it is stylish, not overdone. This is not a program for feminists, women being second-class citizens in the era Spartacus is set in, but does show in no uncertain or ambiguous terms the brutal nature of life in Ancient Rome.

The plot lines are predictable, but I’ve been impressed by the lack of binaries. There are no simple good/evil characters; in one scene you will be rooting for Crixus (Manu Bennet), the next cursing him. The same with John Hannah‘s excellently played Quintus Lentulus Batiatus, at once a business man you want to succeed and also an absolutely ruthless swine ever screwing over the (admittedly binary) hero, Spartacus (fantastically played by Andy Whitfield). Lucy Lawless, back in the arena of Ancient Rome, but in a role of a very different social strata and Peter Mensah are as ever brilliant.

And what about all that sex? Well, it can’t be said that they haven’t made at least a passing representation of homosexuality – there is a very unambiguous scene between two men who are in a stable long term relationship (!) and a very brief girl/girl shot (no, not a whole scene), but the latter is merely a servant ‘warming up’ Lawless’ character for the hetero sex scene that follows.  Is this an unfair lack of representation? Probably not, historically, and I still give the program kudos for the loving and non-promiscuous gay relationship — even if they do, predictably, both die.

Here’s a site with some more pictures of Spartacus, plus behind the scenes footage, interviews and the official trailer for the show:

Ok, I confess. Between starting this post and finishing it I watched the last three episodes. Superb ending, pro-watch.

  1. January 8th, 2012
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