Westworld, the new HBO series based on Michael Crichton's 1973 cult film of the same name, was hit with a bit of controversy during this year's Television Critics' Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour when the show's creators were questioned about the use of sexual violence against Dolores, an android character played by Evan Rachel Wood. As our own Jill Pantozzi reported, co-creator Lisa Joy Nolan responded with nuance and sensitivity, telling the assembled press corps:
“When we were tackling a project about a park with premise where you can come there and do whatever desire you want with impunity and without consequence, it seemed like an issue we had to address. In addressing it, there's a lot of thinking that goes into it. Sexual violence is an issue we take seriously; it's extraordinarily disturbing and horrifying. And in its portrayal, we endeavored for it to not be about the fetishization of those acts. It's about exploring the crime, establishing the crime and the torment of the characters within this story and exploring their stories hopefully with dignity and depth and that's what we endeavored to do.”
The depiction of sexual violence is certainly a topic for future discussion — and you can bet there will be innumerable think pieces devoted to the subject once the show premieres — but in the meantime: here's a brief primer for viewers who want to get up to speed on the basics of HBO's heavily-anticipated new series.