The constant struggle that the adult entertainment industry faces is that they are not considered as serious content by the rest of the entertainment industry, even though they make as much – if not more – money as the other more tasteful parts. Their producers are constantly trying to change this point of view, releasing movies that contain a plot as well as the more carnal form of entertainment. However, this is notoriously difficult to pull off. Either the plot and exposition runs on for too long and discourages the sex-focused viewers or the sex is too prominent and there isn’t enough time left to do any serious storytelling.
The story behind Forbidden Science
In 2013, showrunner Doug Brode released his take on the adult entertainment industry’s problem: Forbidden Science. The show follows the life of scientist Julia White (played by Vanessa Bronze), who is a clone created by her husband after he murdered her to steal her secrets. She works at 4Ever Technologies, who create the type of technology needed to produce clones and transfer their memories from their doppelgangers. The program is literally about Forbidden Science, asking where we should draw the line between science and morality.
While it is erotic in nature, Forbidden Science is an attempt at sophisticated adult entertainment – deep and introspective while still being suitable for the so-called one-armed army of viewers.
Julia has to figure out what it means to be a clone in a world where clones and droids are slaves to humans. She ends up meeting Max, a suicidal sex droid who she falls in love with. Max is property of 4Ever innovations, so when Julia helps him to escape his torturous existence, the representatives of the company follow them in hot pursuit. Julia has to protect Max and reckon with her feelings about him and her husband while dealing with her sudden recollections of her past life.
Far from being poorly produced, Forbidden Science gets several things right. The minimalism of the set and props create scenes that naturally draw the eye to specific props and decorations, adding to an overarching sense of futurism and refinement to the show while selling the viewer on the narrative. Add that to – with some exceptions – surprisingly good casting and you’ve got yourself a decent mix. The women in particular don’t seem to have been cast for their looks but for their acting ability; a deviation from the norm in adult entertainment. They also look more like real-life average women than cast members in some other adult entertainment shows; not much plastic on display here.
Actually, if you were to overlook some of it’s lengthier sex scenes, you can almost picture Forbidden Science on say, the SciFi channel. While the show is heavy on sexual intercourse and there is a huge focus on partner variety (sex with clones, android, in Virtual Reality, and between humans all happen in this show), Brode isn’t just trying to display fantasies. His scripts stress several recurring themes (such as clones being copies of people rather than the dead resurrected) and he uses Julia as an avenue to explore what it means to be human. Are we the accumulation of our experiences? Is someone with all our memories the same person as we are?
What happened to Forbidden Science?
Production of the show stopped after the first season and Forbidden Science never quite developed a following or got going. Cinemax never released an official statement confirming its cancellation, but its Wikipedia page says the show “ran from January to March 2013”. The ideas explored by this show and its unique take on them in an adult show showed promise, but we will probably never know the extent to which Brode and Forbidden Science satisfied those viewers who were only watching for the sex or if the select few who took interest in the unique vision he promised were able to find any fulfillment in the show’s episodes. All we do know is that for a few months in 2013, this unlikely mashup of ideas and genres aired on Cinemax, a representation of one man’s hopes for an industry.