HBO’s breakout tech sitcom Silicon Valley finished last Sunday’s episode with a bang. Specifically, a bang between two mighty horses; in what might be the single most graphic sex scene ever aired on the premium cable channel, a stallion mounts a mare and goes to town on her horse-parts as start-up creator Richard (Thomas Middleditch) confronts his new CEO Jack Barker (Stephen Tobolowsky) about unwelcome changes to their company. The underlying visual metaphor is clear, but not nearly as clear as the horse genitals, of which the viewer gets a generous eyeful. To the usual audiences, it was hilarious and disturbing in equal measure, but the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals found it nothing but offensive, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Despite the fact that the American Humane Association was on set to ensure that Mike Judge’s production would meet the necessary requirements to qualify for the all-important “No Animals Were Harmed” certification (and despite the fact that the horses seem pretty into it), PETA compared the guided equine copulation to “arranged rape.” PETA representative Lisa Lange spelled out her objections in a prepared statement:
“It may seem fun, but the mares are tethered during the process with no means of escape and the stallions are put on a lead rope and dragged to the mares to be mounted. Neither the stallions or the mares have any choice, it’s assembly line breeding for profit.… There’s an overpopulation crisis in racing as most horses will not win races, and are therefore discarded and sent on hideous journeys by truck in all weather to Mexico or Canada to be turned into meat.”
Alleged secondhand horse rapist Mike Judge took the denunciations in stride, however. He recounted his exchange with HBO’s higher-ups for the Hollywood Reporter as well, saying, “I actually have an email from [senior vice president of comedy programming] Amy Gravitt where she said, ‘I can’t believe I’m saying this, but can we have more screen time with the horses having sex?’ So we put in more shots.”
The shameless horse pornographers of HBO will get their comeuppance from PETA in due time, no doubt there. The radical animal-rights group has been known to make a public splash by dousing proponents of fur-as-fashion with red paint, simulating animal blood. If Judge isn’t careful, he might be on the receiving end of a bucket of horse reproductive material next time he walks the red carpet.