9 Times TV Shows Perfectly Tackled Sexual Consent

Consent is a difficult, sensitive subject to bring up, but discussing it more openly could be the key linking factor that makes it less of a taboo subject, that makes it easier for those not in the know to understand that no just plain and simply means no, always and forever, full stop. Tv shows, over the past few years, have tackled this issue head on and here are some examples of just that.

Mad Men 

Mad Men opened a discussion on marital consent when Joan's fiancé Greg, forcefully rapes her in Don Drapers office, something that, as we see over the seasons, will always remain in the back of her mind, haunting her, throughout their marriage, throughout everything, until eventually, their marriage breaks down.

Love Hate

Love Hate was never afraid of broaching difficult and upsetting subjects, rape included. What really raised some questions though, was the fact that the show also dealt with the very real, but not very often discussed realities of male rape. Firstly, we saw Siobhán get viciously attacked by the IRA chief Git and we watched her struggle and muddle through the pain of it all afterwards and then we had Fran falling victim to a horrific attack in prison which brought a whole new light to the topic.

Gossip Girl


Gossip Girl themes itself around power plays. Status, money, history and geography all come into play when it comes to the pecking order, but we saw a different and frankly, more sinister side to things throughout the six seasons. In the first, Chuck forced himself first on Jenny, then on his later to be step sister Serena, and then, later on in the series, his conniving uncle Jack attacks Lily in the bathroom at an event. It was, perhaps, an attempt to show us that money hungry characters seemingly need to seek power in other ways too.

The Affair

The Affair is an interesting tv show for many reasons, the main one being the fact that we see most of the events from two different perspectives, often with huge differences and no way of knowing which one we should really believe. In the first season, Noah walks in on what he believes to be a rape scene between Alison and her husband, Cole. But then, when the tables are flipped and we see things from Alison's perspective, it appears as though it was consensual. Confusing? Yes. Risky plotlines? Most certainly.


As one of the most popular running soaps ever to grace our screens, Eastenders is never afraid to broach controversial storylines and difficult subjects. Recently, a storyline about consent and rape was brought to light when the character of Linda, landlady of the Queen Vic, falls victim to rape by her own Nephew, Dean. And then, whilst trying to deal with the aftermath of it all, she discovers that she may be pregnant as a result of the attack. Eastenders did something that few others dared to do in broaching this very real storyline in a such a difficult manner, that much is true.


The Fall

The Fall was an outright interesting, yet dangerous themed show from the very beginning. A married father of two counsels people through bereavement, all the while sidelining a pastime in sexually assaulting and murdering women in a carefully manicured manner. At times, The Fall was difficult to watch due to the sheer scale of the hideous crimes committed, but it explored the darkest of dark sides of consent and violence.

Fair City

The Irish soap featured a difficult to watch but strong message last year when one of its most popular characters, Yvonne, became the victim of a vicious rape storyline. After meeting someone online and having sex on the first date, things go horribly awry on the second date when her date doesn't take no for an answer. The storyline itself was a very modern take on the subject of consent, and raised a lot of questions about internet dating and modern societies views on it all.

House of Cards

In the second season of House of Cards, Claire, one of the strongest and most influential characters on the show, reveals during a live tv interview that she was raped by an old boyfriend, a now Army General. She even names him on live tv and in doing so, empowers another of his victims to come forward. This was one of the few times in TV history when a victim actually came to some sort of closure and justice was, in some small way, served.


Early on in season 2 of 90210, Naomi Clarke, the brashest character on the show, lied about being sexually assaulted by her teacher, Mr. Cannon. The latter took advantage of Naomi's vulnerable position and raped her, claiming no one would believe her. What resulted was Naomi, a character renowned for her endless confidence, becoming isolated and turning to alcohol as a respite. In the case of 90210, Mr. Cannon was brought to justice. For a teen show that so often focused on more lighthearted fare, they tackled the issue of sexual consent delicately and with a great deal of sensitivity.


*If you have been affected by any issues raised by this article please call the Dublin Rape Crisis National 24-Hour Helpline 1800 77 8888

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