The Submission (TV Series) is a 6 episode television series that was released and aired on Showtime this spring. It chronicles a woman (Ashley) who reads a 50 Shades like book called "Slave" and how this book leads to her desire for submission. Which ultimately, you guessed it, leads to her embarking on a journey of self-discovery.
To be honest, when the trailer for this TV series was shared in the BDSMtalks Community, I had hopes that someone would have finally gotten it (BDSM) right. A significant part of their promotion for Submission (TV Series) was that it "put the sex in 50 Shades". That's unfortunately nearly all the series did.
Now, let's get on with my review, shall we?
Submission (TV Series)
This series literally took me nearly two weeks to watch. Not because I was too busy or that the series was too long to watch, but simply because I could hardly stomach the first episode enough to maintain the desire to continue to watch the rest of the series in its entirety.
After over a week of debating and essentially on the premise in the way in which the first episode ended, I decided I would watch the Submission (TV Series) in its entirety before coming to a final conclusion. To be honest, my initial conclusions didn't change much from the first episode to the last, but I was surprised about a couple of things, which I'll get to towards the end of this review.
I'm going to refrain from providing any details that actually happen within this series as to avoid the possibility of any spoilers. However, here are my thoughts.
When I was young, one of the French television networks we have here in Canada (we are bilingual) used to air super low budget and terrible softcore titty porn (Bleu Nuit) from 11-11:30 pm each night. As a child, this was the highlight of any night in which I was able to stay up late. However, I am no longer a child and that television series no longer airs; for good reason!
The entire Submission (TV Series) reminded me of Bleu Nuit and it was a nostalgic reminder of my prepubescent years; hardly exciting.
The budget for this television show is apparently low. So low, that about 1/3 of the way through the very first episode, the main character Ashley's vehicle is shown and the Honda logo on the trunk is hidden with black duct tape; just to put it into perspective.
I am okay with a low budget indy film or series, provided the acting can back it up. Outside of the main character (Ashley), there is hardly a shred of acting potential in any of the supporting cast. It is atrocious. It's as if they cast a group of amateur porn stars who haven't taken a single acting class.
You place the low budget, incredibly poor acting, throw it all in front of a camera and what do you get? A sense that every scene is staged, in the same fashion that you would if you were watching a stage play. There is no transition from scene to scene in the least, just a sense that everything is set-up.
Crazy to think that not one of those is even the largest drawback of the Submission (TV Series).
Where the series goes completely wrong is in its abundant, over-sexualization. Quite literally, without exaggeration, every second scene cuts to softcore titty porn. I'm sure the intent was to 'push' television boundaries and be provocative; to stand out. However, it's just too much and takes away from the storyline entirely. The potential to enhance the story line gets completely lost.
Ultimately, after a week of ending the first episode, I decided I would finish the series in its entirety, no matter how painful it was to watch. This decision came largely based upon the closing dialog of the first episode in the form of a narration.
The first episode closed out with the narration that follows;
Punishment became as prevalent to our relationship as rewards and on the days that I disobeyed Him, there were consequences, but I enjoyed those consequences. For me, there was a sense of empowerment to it; knowing I could stomach the pain. I realized there was great strength in my ability to obey His every command, but there was also a great thrill that came from defying Him. A defiance that soon followed with the slap of a whip or the sting of His hand. Before long, the uptight woman inside me had become fully unwrapped; taking pleasure in the knowledge that I could never exist with another man the way I have with Him and that my road to sexual freedom could only be found through my submission.
As I let this sit with me for over a week I began to think; based on this narration, their writers are either far better than I originally gave them credit for or they took the time to speak to those that are truly submissive before and during the writing of the television series. I decided it was the latter and chose to stomach the incredibly poor quality of the show and watch it in its entirety.
To my surprise, the second episode opened on another very submissive minded narration;
Should these ropes used to tie me down were to suddenly break, I would not have moved; I was enslaved to Him. It was neither rope or cuff or belt that kept me there.
Okay, I'll watch it.
My feelings towards the series come the end are a fairly mixed. As terrible as the Submission (TV Series) is, I feel they did a good job at capturing a far more realistic interpretation of a D&s exchange than I have seen in a motion film or series to date. There was very little in the sense of over-romanticizing the exchanges bringing about a more realistic D&s exchange that I feel many would be able to relate to in one form or another.
If you strip the series down completely bare, skip through all the sex scenes (as I did), ignore the terrible transitions from scene to scene and focus solely and entirely on the very small story being told between a lifestyle Dominant and a newly discovered submissive, there is a real opportunity to create something of value for the BDSM community and not the vanilla masses.
The D&S exchanges between the leading submissive character (Ashley) and Dominant (Elliot), in my opinion, are much more aligned with those that I have experienced myself at some stage or another with various submissives.
There are also other small quips that could have been capitalized on, such as a book club meeting that a few women in the show have to discuss the book featured in the series ("Slave"), which takes place a few episodes in. During this book club meeting, the discussion that takes place between those that are undecided, those that are submissive and those that are vanilla is very much similar to debates that these various individuals have in everyday life (in real life). You get a true sense of all sides (views) of the BDSM spectrum which I feel many within the lifestyle would be able to relate to.
The problem? These instances are incredibly minimal. There is a real and serious lack of intellectual stimulus and at any and all instances in which there is an opportunity to provide the much-needed stimulus; it cuts to an unneeded, irrelevant, low budget softcore titty porn sex scene; completely dumbing it down.
Here's a fun fact about the series! As a lingerie fetishist, I couldn't help but take note of the fact that in all sexual scenes, the female's lingerie attire always matched perfectly. Not always the most visually appealing choice in sets, but they always matched. So, kudos for that!
My final thoughts on the Submission (TV Series)?
It is brutally painful to watch and I don't mean that with any intent of providing a pun. I wouldn't recommend others to watch this series, I would be embarrassed to do so. However, knowledge is power so I wouldn't say don't watch it either.
If you're into low budget titty porn that revolves around BDSM or a 'vanilla', you'll probably love this series. If you're an intellectual or lifestylists, I am sure you will sense what I find lacking as well and desire for more focus and emphasis on the opportunities the series is missing.
There is very little to stimulate or provoke an intellectual reaction or interest. The opportunity is there to do so and behind all the crap there is a story, a good story, but that opportunity was all but missed on their writers as the story between Dominant (Elliot) and submissive (Ashley) is but a mere fraction of the series.
The Submission (TV Series) is ultimately a low budget softcore BDSM titty porn film that gets stretched out over 6 half hour episodes.
If I had a 5-star rating system, I would rate this 1.5 stars out of 5 stars.
That rating would merely be based on the opportunity to provide a good story that would be intellectually stimulating and for the subtle ability to stay fairly true to the reality of D&s exchanges and not over-romanticizing it.
Lastly, the series comes to an end in a move to keep the audience guessing (as most series do), ultimately leaving the possibly for a second season open for thought. However, if the series simply ended there... I wouldn't be mad about it.
Have you seen the series yet? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!