In an interview for a TIME story on how sex and intimacy is changing on TV, The Americans showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg talked about how they began season two sitting in their writers’ room trying to list every single sex position known to man. They wanted to show Russian spy couple Elizabeth and Philip reconnecting physically and emotionally. “We were looking for something that expressed mutuality but also great intimacy,” says Weisberg.
They settled on the only position they thought was mutually pleasurable and vulnerable: the 69. But once they’d decided to show the daring scene on TV, they had to figure out how to position the actors. “You’ll notice that the choice we landed on didn’t involve dominance,” Fields says. “Philip wasn’t on top, and Elizabeth wasn’t on top. That was a specific choice.”
Read about some of TV’s other controversial sex scenes from shows like Girls and Transparent here.