Amazon Showrunners: No Sex Scenes in ‘The Rings of Power’

Showrunners Patrick McKay and JD Payne addressed fans’ concern in this morning’s series reveal at Vanity Fair.
on Feb 10, 2022 · No comments

Amazon Prime’s The Rings of Power series will be appropriate for older children and won’t have R-rated sex and violence.

That’s according to showrunners Patrick McKay and JD Payne, in this morning’s series reveal article at Vanity Fair.1

After news broke that Amazon had hired an intimacy coordinator for its New Zealand set, some fans feared that the production might have lost sight of what makes Tolkien Tolkien. “My worry would be if it becomes a Game of Thrones in the Second Age,” says Dimitra Fimi, a Tolkien scholar and lecturer at the University of Glasgow. “That wouldn’t be what one would associate with Tolkien’s vision. It would also be derivative.”

So will there be Westerosi levels of violence and sex in Amazon’s Middle-earth? In short, no. [Showrunner Patrick] McKay says the goal was “to make a show for everyone, for kids who are 11, 12, and 13, even though sometimes they might have to pull the blanket up over their eyes if it’s a little too scary. We talked about the tone in Tolkien’s books. This is material that is sometimes scary—and sometimes very intense, sometimes quite political, sometimes quite sophisticated—but it’s also heartwarming and life-affirming and optimistic. It’s about friendship and it’s about brotherhood and underdogs overcoming great darkness.”

Christian fans of Middle-earth shared concerns about “intimacy coordinators.” Many believe a big-budget fantasy series will copy Game of Thrones‘s infamous pornography. Some fans have also dismissed The Rings of Power as potentially “woke” or violating of Tolkien’s canon.

Series creators do not address “woke” elements, only mentioning diverse casting choices for Dwarves and Elves.

Yet canon believers—at the vertices of Tolkien’s beloved literary universe and Peter Jackson’s films—may blanch at this from Vanity Fair:

In the novels, the aforementioned things take place over thousands of years, but Payne and McKay have compressed events into a single point in time. It is their biggest deviation from the text, and they know it’s a big swing. “We talked with the Tolkien estate,” says Payne. “If you are true to the exact letter of the law, you are going to be telling a story in which your human characters are dying off every season because you’re jumping 200 years in time, and then you’re not meeting really big, important canon characters until season four. Look, there might be some fans who want us to do a documentary of Middle-earth, but we’re going to tell one story that unites all these things.”

The original three Jackson films followed the timespan of The Lord of the Rings novel: roughly one year, tracking Frodo’s and Sam’s journey to destroy the One Ring.

  1. An original version of this post misidentified the publication (as Variety). In fact, it’s (the rather suspiciously named) Vanity Fair.
E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.

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