PETA Says Neigh to HBO's "Horse Porn" on 'Silicon Valley'

Silicon Valley- Screen Shot -HBO-Episode #20 (season 3, episode 2) Barn-H 2016
Courtesy of HBO

That scene in Silicon Valley's May 1 episode with the super-explicit horse sex? PETA didn't think it was funny.

Although the American Humane Association was on the set at the California breeding farm where the sequence was filmed and gave the shoot a "No Animals Were Harmed" certification, the more radical animal-rights group likened the practice of thoroughbred mating to "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." 

HBO, for its part, couldn't get enough of the horseplay. "I actually have an email from [senior vp comedy programming] Amy Gravitt where she said, ‘I can't believe I'm saying this, but can we have more screen time with the horses having sex?' " the show's creator Mike Judge tells The Hollywood Reporter. "So we put in more shots."

Those shots, says Mark Stubis of the American Humane Association, were filmed "naturally, documentary style, on an actual horse breeding farm with no interference with the animals in any way by production."

Breeding professionals were on hand to make sure everything went smoothly. An American Humane Association Certified Animal Safety Representative was on set during the filming of the scene, as was a veterinarian who checked both horses prior to shooting the scene," he adds. "Production was very cooperative from the first stages of informing American Humane Association to the day of filming."

This story first appeared in the May 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.