Modestly Speaking, "The All-time Hottest Sex Scene in Television History"
It's ironic isn't it? I am the bozo who asked for fans to contribute their remembrances and opinions here, and yet for the life of me, this has been harder to write than almost anything else on this website. I fully intended to intellectually explain to you why this scene worked so well on thematic, symbolic, filmic and genre-based levels. I so wanted to march out my learned litty critty and film studies to develop my carefully thought out argument. I wanted to tell you how the final scene resonated so beautifully with the episode's opening scene in both character and theme. And then point out the symbolic moments of the fight as well as how all the dynamics of the relationship echo throughout. I was going to quote Harold Bloom and Pudovkin and even Erica Jong. But as I sit here in front of my computer screen and am filling this page with my thoughts, I realize now after four false starts that it is not my rational and intellectual take on the scene that is the most honest and pure but instead my visceral reaction. This scene works for me on a deeply emotional and physical level, and graduate studies be damned, that, my friends, is what is ultimately significant. So this one is from my heart as opposed to my brain. (It actually may also be partially shaped by other parts of the body that are best left unnamed.)
Count me in the LOVED it LOVED it LOVED it column and as a big believer in the idea that it could not have happened any other way nor be more satisfying. I remember distinctly the night I watched it...eyes glued to the set, having carefully inserted a brand new VCR tape into the machine to make sure that I got this episode perfectly come hell or high water. I knew the big moment was coming. I had read all the press. I had of course seen the ad in the TV Guide that week, heck, I think I probably had the ad in the TV Guide that week cut out and pinned to my cork board behind my desk at work. So I knew something big was gonna occur. I enjoyed the episode but was starting to wonder how this whole thing was going to play out. Just about the time I saw Maddie follow David down the stairs, arguing the whole way, I knew something big was going to happen. You just don't fight that viciously and not be sublimating something much deeper.
The scene delighted and thrilled me. It was intense, sensational and exciting. For me watching it reminded me of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler or Hepburn and Tracy or Bacall and Bogart or of any and all of the great screen couples replete with sexual hostility. The simplest explanation for why this works so well comes from Hollywood Studio Magazine from January 1988 in an article called "Sexual Hostility in the Movies." In the intro to the piece, the author, Johnny Jason, describes the action as "the male and the female of the species vying for superiority over one another, yet secretly yearning for mutual sexual satisfaction." He continues later in the article with "There's something sexy about couples who don't get along in the living room. It conjures up thoughts about what might happen when they get to the bedroom." Might I mention that this scene does that in spades!!
The scene is provocatively subversive with the name-calling expletives, the sheer physicality in the slapping along with the urgent way they took each other to the ground, the extreme heat and passion in that long, deep kiss, and the inferred nudity. All of these elements banged right up against the line for acceptable viewing on prime time network television at that time. "Bitch" and "bastard" were about as crude of language as was allowed on the air at that time. In addition, screen kisses on TV just never showed that level of sexuality as we saw in this one nor did they last as long. And a single slap would have been shocking enough but two--an attempted three...that doubles even triples the effect! Just how much sex could you show on TV in 1987 and not actually show it? This went pretty far even though clearly the scene stops showing IT before IT ever occurs. But it left no doubt of the intensity of the act or of the significance. Maddie and David's first sexual encounter was absolutely perfect in execution and true to the characters and the story, especially when it starts out so rough and violent and ends so tender and sweet. The constant push-pull, back and forth, action and reaction to everything they do--even here in the bedroom, the final tender moment in complete opposition to the initial attack. This is thematically and symbolically as true to character as it gets. After all what we have here is a modernized somewhat feminist Taming of the Shrew retelling, and this is one of the biggest mutual 'taming' moments between our battling twosome. It is also a screwball moment (opposites repel and also attract) of the highest order. It is the moment of sexual hostility converted into sexual activity. It is a postmodern, subversive romantic scene that I think establishes a touchstone moment in filmic representations of the battle of the sexes. It is wildly out of control, messy and deliciously stark. These two have never been more enigmatic nor more vulnerable to each other. And for those of us watching who had a major emotional investment in these two characters, it was climactic for us all.
Once you recover from the intensity of the scene and rewatch the entire episode, you realize how brilliantly this whole thing was set up. Visually as well as thematically the contrasting elements of the episode in this final scene are juxtaposed with the opening scene wherein we see the same living room orderly and perfectly set for breakfast with elegant crystal on the stylish glass table top....all the handiwork of Sam. This is the same room, same glass table, and some of the same crystal that later that night will be tossed aside, upturned and sent flying during Maddie and David's passionate lovemaking. One simple comparison between the a.m. living room and the p.m. living room gives us worlds of information about not only what has happened but also in the differences between the two men, Maddie's reactions to them, and what choice she has made and why.
Now I want to share a couple of practical, personal reactions of others that also illustrate the pure sexuality of the scene. What you are about to read is a very personal story shared with me by a woman who lives not so far from me now and that I have worked with in a business situation. She is allowing me to tell this on the condition that she and her family remain anonymous. And so I can give no hints of name, occupation, hometown, etc. Let's call her Mary. Here is her story:
Mary was married to a man that was a successful businessman but their marriage was rather dull back in early 1987. Mary complained that there was no passion in the marriage, that their sex life was lacking, and that neither her husband nor she were particularly passionate people. Her husband was away a lot and Mary contemplated having an affair, but she had never actually done something that outrageous before. Anyway, Mary watched a lot of TV because she did not work and she had no children and with her husband being gone a lot, there wasn't much else to do anyway. She loved Moonlighting, never missed an episode, loved Maddie and David, and thought they were one very hot couple. Mary tells me that the night the episode "I am Curious...Maddie" aired, she absolutely was riveted to the action and couldn't believe what she was seeing. The fight that led to passionate sex really turned her on. She said she thought about that scene all night and kept imagining what it would be like to make love like that. Anyway, later that night, very late, her husband arrived home from his overnight trip. Mary says with Maddie and David on her mind, she was aroused by her husband that night like she had never been before, and they had really great sex, probably the best ever. Little did he know she was thinking about nothing but what she had seen on her TV screen....anyway, to make a long story short, even though Mary and her husband have now been divorced for at least 10 years and Mary has since remarried, she tells me she still fantasizes about that scene between Maddie and David. Recently she says she came in from work early and turned on the TV set to find "Moonlighting" showing on Bravo. She says she sat down, watched it and got drawn back into the magic of that great relationship. Mary admits that whenever her love life is running a bit lackluster, she always knows she can kick it into high gear by thinking about the consummation scene in "I am Curious..Maddie." Mary tells me that scene has served her well, over and over. It has proved to be a continuing source of excitement in her life.
Along the same line, recently on a flight back from New York City after having met with Moonlighting Creator Glenn Caron for the interview that is on this site, I was seated next to a woman with whom I struck up a conversation. During the course of the chit chat it became apparent to her that this was my first foray to the Big Apple so she asked me the nature of my trip. I told her all about this site and what I had been doing up there. She related that she used to watch Moonlighting regularly and had in fact been an avid fan. I mentioned to her how I was currently working on a section of the site all about the controversy surrounding the scene where Maddie and David first slept together and whether fans liked or hated it. She smiled and then revealed to me what I have heard from quite a few others...the scene is a personal aphrodisiac of sorts for her, but she whispered conspiratorially "don't ever tell your mate though, it makes them really upset that they have to 'compete' with that!" She claims she made this mistake with her then boyfriend and afterward he refused to watch Moonlighting with her ever again.
I have to admit, I sure can understand why this scene effects these women in this way... it is one hot tamale. And although I haven't necessarily put it into practice as Mary or the woman on the plane have, (not that I would ever admit to doing so anyway!!), I find myself completely swept up in it every time I watch it. Maybe I get thrilled vicariously through it---and maybe it is personal fantasy as well (let's just be frank here, most women I know harbor fantasies like this....being practically ravished....especially when the ravisher is a man of the "bad boy" persuasion like the roguish David Addison.) Every woman feels empowered by knowing she can drive a man to such extremes, and I would imagine every man feels the same way about getting such a reaction from a woman. Most of us would love to be in a situation like this (mutual rough sex is sexy, especially when its spontaneous and unbridled as this is), and the bottom line is I loved the scene then and still do. There are very few scenes I know that captures the essence of "first time" passion with someone you are wildly excited by like this scene does.
~~ Webmaster, Cindy K. Panama City Beach, FL
This is not meant to violate or infringe on any copyrights.