What’s up with the giant blue dildo in ‘Watchmen’?

Jean Smart as Laurie Blake was the breakout character of this week’s Watchmen, closely followed by her giant blue dildo. It’s both a straightforward dick joke and a reference to the original comic, where Dr. Manhattan’s nude blue body is, let’s face it, a pretty memorable element.

Laurie Blake (aka the former superhero Silk Spectre) is now in her sixties, and it’s been decades since her relationship with Dr. Manhattan ended. He’s still an important figure from her past, but her attitude towards him is understandably ambivalent. The episode is punctuated by one-sided phone calls where she tells dark, elaborate jokes to Dr. Manhattan on Mars, which is, in turn, a reference to her later superhero identity as the Comedienne. But it doesn’t necessarily seem like she’s still in love with him, even when the dildo comes out.

Lila Byock, who co-wrote the episode with showrunner Damon Lindelof, says she initially pitched the dildo as a joke in the writers’ room. “We knew that [Laurie] had this briefcase that she was carrying around with her that contained some kind of secret,” Byock said in an interview with Slate. “Something that was important, that was meaningful to her.” And instead of being secret documents or a weapon, Byock decided that the ideal punchline would be Laurie Blake’s enormous Dr. Manhattan dildo.

watchmen dildo Watchmen/HBO

The writers also had very specific instructions about what the dildo should look like. It had to be big, it had to resemble a Jeff Koons sculpture, and it had to have detachable balls that activate the vibrate function. And herein lies a problem, because the Watchmen writers are not professional sex toy designers. The dildo works as a sight gag, but does it actually look like a commercially viable sex toy? Not so much. Actually, it looks like an inflexible, cervix-obliterating monstrosity.

As the Slate interview points out, you can already buy real Dr. Manhattan dildos, which basically just look like blue dicks. There are even companies like Bad Dragon that specialize in sex toys inspired by sci-fi/fantasy creatures, and none of them look like rigid, perfectly smooth, foot-long tubes. This particular design is also kind of mystifying as a Watchmen comic callback, because we all know what Dr. Manhattan’s dong looks like, and it ain’t that. He’s more of a Michaelangelo’s David kind of guy, and his sex scenes with Laurie Blake weren’t very phallo-centric. The whole point was that he used his superpowers to please her, once going too far by generating multiple copies of his body and freaking her out.

According to Lila Byock, although the dildo started off as a joke, it evolved into a piece of insight about Laurie’s conflicted relationship with Dr. Manhattan:

“We definitely talked about kind of what it means to her and why she gets off this way. And I think on some level she probably doesn’t even really understand it herself. I think that she is somebody who has really complicated feelings about this era in her personal history. I mean, keep in mind, she was 16 when she got involved with Dr. Manhattan, and that relationship occupied her entire adult life until she turned 30 and sort of ran off with Dan Dreiberg and Manhattan left earth. So I think it’s probably a relationship that she still has unresolved feelings about.”

Laurie gets a rough deal in the comic. As the main female character, she’s primarily defined by her relationships with men: her lovers Dr. Manhattan and Nite Owl, and her father the Comedian, who raped her mother. In the 2009 movie, she’s the cliché of a sexualized Zack Snyder heroine in a PVC catsuit. The HBO show offers a satisfyingly unexpected epilogue to her story, reintroducing her as a cynical and darkly amusing authority figure. Her taste in sex toys, however, is still pretty debatable.

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Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor