The Fallout TV Show Is Way Sexier Than The Games

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A promotional image of Lucy, played by Ella Purnell, inside of one of the vaults in Fallout.

Spoilers for the Fallout show follow.

Fallout begins on a wedding day. It is the wedding day of Lucy (played by Yellowjacket’s Ella Purnell), specifically, and she’s pretty excited. She isn’t just stoked to be wedded to someone and have a partner to share the rest of her life with, but to have sex with someone who isn’t her cousin Chet (Dave Register), who is head-over-heels in love with her. When Lucy first lays eyes on the man she’s going to marry, a man she believes to be a fellow vault dweller from a neighboring vault, she and her friend Stephanie (Annabel O’Hagan) react in the realest way: they look him up and down and then shoot each other a knowing and lustful look.

It’s an openly horny moment that sets up the even hornier moments that come afterwards. After the wedding and reception, Lucy and her new beau are quick to excitedly excuse themselves from the rest of the party, see their new home, and get down to business. Once they arrive, he strips naked as soon as he can, surprising and amusing Lucy, rather than disgusting her. Before you know it, Lucy is straddling her husband on the kitchen table, as wedded couples are wont to do.

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Though Lucy’s husband “Monty” is eventually revealed to be part of a duplicitous raiding party that slaughters most of Vault 33 and dies in an attempt to kill her, that doesn’t kneecap her sexual desire. After Lucy leaves her vault, the show follows her growing relationship with Maximus (Aaron Motten) which begins with fanciful notions of gallantry and nobility. Lucy, confusing Maximus in his Power Armor for an actual knight, is immediately taken with him, and Maximus reciprocates by trying to be the fairytale knight who gets the princess in the end. They eventually share a kiss, but not before Lucy very liberally offers to have sex with him simply because they’ve nothing better to do while they’re locked in a room together. In a run of eight episodes, Lucy fucks more than anyone else in the franchise, and becomes the poster child of Fallout’s surprising sex positivity.

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I say surprising because the Fallout games aren’t known for their romance or sex. As a matter of fact, they’re known for the opposite, a stark contrast to how they are talked about against their contemporaries, like Bioware’s multiple RPG franchises and last year’s famously horny Baldur’s Gate 3. Mass Effect was, for a time, crudely dubbed “Ass Effect” by those who fixated over the titillating sex scenes, after all, and every woman I know who has played the series wants Garrus to blow their backs out. By comparison, the Fallout series, and really all of Bethesda’s games, are pretty sexless.

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Everybody wants some

That isn’t to say that there is no sex or romance in the Fallout series, but just that they’re missing emphasis and any semblance of passion. Bethesda RPGs have no shortage of companions whom you can talk to, learn about through side quests, and begin romances with. You can have a home in most Bethesda titles, and after successfully romancing a character, you can assign them to become your domestic partner. They’ll live with you and share the same bed as you, but when it comes to sex or any display of affection, Bethesda is remarkably conservative and chaste. To be clear, Bethesda games don’t have sex scenes. They gesture at sex, fade to black, and call it a day. Romance, love, and sex aren’t windows into how a person ticks, but empty boxes to check off on a list in these games.

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Bethesda’s attitudes towards sex and romance dampens the world around it. Take Fallout for example. A large part of the appeal of Fallout is its irreverence, like the deliberate weirdness of its retrofuturist lens in the wasteland of an America that has destroyed itself. Side characters and quest givers are wackjobs, and many of its most effective stories are the fucked up things that people did to each other. You mean to tell me that people in this batshit version of the post-apocalypse don’t fuck a little bit? Or have developed even weirder kinks than the ones we currently entertain? The bombs drop and suddenly no one can get it up unless it’s to procreate and build some fascist state out of the remains of our country? I don’t buy that.

Neither does the Fallout show. During Maximus’ time with the Brotherhood of Steel, you explicitly see one of his bunkmates masturbating under the sheets of their bed in full view of their fellows-in-arms. When Lucy prompts Maximus for sex later on, he clarifies, “You mean use my cock?” He speaks of his own phallus with childlike naivete that betrays his sexual inexperience, saying that a “weird thing could happen” if they do have sex. That “weird thing” Maximus refers to is getting an erection and eventually ejaculating, and he rebuffs Lucy’s advances despite her assurances that it is actually perfectly normal. Even this window into Maximus’ views on sex, where he treats it like this almost byzantine artifact, wrestles with the series’ view of romance and intimacy more than the games have ever bothered with.

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After the slaughter at Vault 33, which claims Stephanie’s husband, she mourns him by trying to have rebound sex with Chet. Except instead of just sleeping with him, she dresses him in the clothes of her dearly departed and insists on Chet maintaining the facade of her dead husband. Before they can ever truly consummate the intensely weird moment, Stephanie’s water breaks, and though we never see them try again, Chet and Stephanie become a weirdo fucked up post-nuclear family. This is the weird shit Bethesda isn’t featuring, which makes the show’s characters even stranger, but also far more personable.

Pre-Bethesda Fallout titles at least acknowledged sex and attraction in more ways than current titles do. The most prominent of these acknowledgements is a Sex Appeal trait in Fallout 2 that made characters of the opposite sex treat you better. While clearly a dated and binary view of attraction and sexuality, it was at least something that suggested the characters of Fallout could have human sexual desires. Even New Vegas, which it is important to note was made by Obsidian Entertainment rather than Bethesda, has better video game sex and romance than the rest of the series. If the people playing with your property are doing it better than you, something’s wrong.

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I’m not calling for Bethesda to suddenly have incredibly graphic sex scenes. It’s understandably hard to portray intimacy like that, especially considering that it’s all fabricated. But if the Fallout games decide to take a page or two from the show’s playbook, this is absolutely an element Bethesda could learn a thing or two about. I’m far more invested in the characters of the Fallout show than anyone Bethesda has written into its games, not because they have sex, but because they are treated like real, interesting humans who just happen to occasionally bone each other. As Bethesda works on Fallout 5, that game that won’t be out for another decade at least, it’s something the team should take under consideration.

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