Cable TV doesn't seem to have a problem with masturbation these days. Whether its Marnie's reaction to Booth Jonathan on Girls or the bevy of test subjects on Masters of Sex, it's just not that big a deal. But apparently, when it comes to a broadcast network teen drama about Mary Queen of Scots—yeah, you read that correctly—the self pleasuring needs to be toned down.
According to Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd, a scene in The CW's new show Reign in which a handmaiden sneaks into a stairwell to masturbate before the King of France interrupts her and has sex with her has been cut to be a little less explicit. "Now viewers see the barest suggestion of Kenna’s actions in a few quick shots, then king’s hand snatches hers from her lap," Hibberd wrote. "The moment went from a clear 'I can’t believe they’re actually showing this' to 'Was she doing what I think she was doing?'"
Now, according to Lisa de Moraes at Deadline, writers at this summer's Television Critics Association press tour were less concerned with the masturbation, and challenged the show's team more on the glaring historical liberties the show takes with Mary's story. Not that some people aren't still clutching their pearls. "By the end of this oddball tableau — the King asks 'May I? as he begins to clutch her — it's unclear whether we are watching a clever teenagers-in-wayback-times drama or an expertly cut riff on a scene from a ’70s porn pic," Variety's Brian Steinberg wrote in reference to the altered scene.
It's not like network TV has been entirely squeamish with masturbation—let us not forget the entire Seinfeld episode about the subject—and The CW has alluded to the matter in the past. For now, however, The CW decided not to make their Tudors/Game of Thrones For Kids knock-off quite as scandalous as they'd previously envisioned.