‘Westworld’ EP Defends Portrayal of Sexual Violence: It’s ‘Part of Human Nature’

Westworld Teaser
Courtesy of HBO

The first episode of “Westworld” features the implied rape of a main character — making it the latest in a string of HBO series to prominently feature violence against women, particularly sexual violence against women, as part of its narrative. Co-creator and executive producer Lisa Joy defended that depiction Saturday.

“It was definitely something that was heavily discussed and heavily considered as we worked on those scenes,” Joy said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. “‘Westworld’ is a consideration of human nature. The best parts of human nature … and the basest parts of human nature. That includes violence and sexual violence.”

Joy added that sexual violence is “something we all take seriously” on the production. “We wanted it to not be about the fetishization of those acts.”

HBO programming president Casey Bloys fielded several questions about violence against women on “Westworld,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Night Of” during his executive session earlier in the day, struggling at times to answer.

“I can tell you violence, it’s not just specific to women. It’s indiscriminate,” he said of HBO’s shows. “Plenty of men are killed as well,” he added.

Scheduled to premiere Oct. 2, “Westworld” is an ambitious science fiction series that saw production halted in January and not resumed for three months. Executive producer Jonathan Nolan said that “catching up” period was necessary.

“I’ve worked in film and broadcast TV to this point in my career,” Nolan said Saturday at the TCA 2016 panel. They’re not kidding when they say it’s not TV, it’s HBO. It’s a little different. We got to a point in the season where we needed to catch up, we needed to write ahead. With a lot of places this is a dollars and cents issue. With our partners at HBO and Warner Bros., we felt like they wanted us to have as much time as we need.”

“Westworld” is adapted from the original 1973 film directed by Michael Crichton and starring Yul Brynner.

“Crichton is such a genius that he was able to predict the far flung events,” Joy said. “Today it’s not really science fiction, it’s science fact. … Our examination of AI within ‘Westworld’ accounts for a plurality of ways that AI could develop.”