If you watched this past Sunday’s Silicon Valley episode, you probably have a very vivid memory of the scene where two horses have sex. It was funny, for one, but also pretty explicit. It’s not the kind of thing you forget. Esoteric joke about coding algorithms? Yeah, you might lose that one from the memory banks in a week or two. Horses screwing? That’s sticking in for years.
Among those who were not laughing about that scene was PETA—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—who, referring to thoroughbred breeding in general, called it “arranged rape.”
According to PETA spokesperson Lisa Lange, “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.”
That’s not a pretty picture, but HBO didn’t back down. Show creator Mike Judge told THR that Amy Gravitt, senior VP of comedy programming, actually emailed him advocating for more horse sex screen time, and the American Humane Association representative who was at the filming—per the rules—said the whole thing was filmed “naturally, documentary style, on an actual horse breeding farm with no interference with the animals in any way by production.”
Breeding professionals and a safety representative all confirmed that filming was on the up-and-up, so it’s likely that PETA’s protest won’t have much impact. And it’s doubtful that this problem will come up again, since in my opinion Erlich Bachmann is the only stud this show needs.