Westworld: but why are the hosts naked, by the way?


The second season of Westworld is currently filming, and if you’re familiar with the show then there is a detail that certainly didn’t escape your attention: the hosts regularly appear naked. Here’s why.

The HBO series Westworld is a sci-fiction story set in a future where guests can pay to visit a Wild-West amusement park populated with technologically advanced androids called the hosts. While they are fully dressed in thematic costumes when inside the Park, hosts who are taken to the general headquarters for maintenance, analysis or reprogramming are almost always naked. But why is that?

Nudity is a recurring, and consequently, a far too prominent feature inherent to the hosts to be overlooked. One might think that this is simply a reminder that hosts and first and foremost machines, and as such, keeping them dressed at all times would be irrelevant and superfluous. On top of which, there might just a practical explanation for it; considering how identical in appearances and demeanor the hosts are to humans, nudity could be a way to tell them apart.

Furthermore, and indisputably so, it is a visual, silent reminder of the current hierarchy in which humans stand as the superior kind, above the hosts, totally submissive and meek to their every command.

But there is more to it.

In episode 3, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), co-founder and creative director, steps in when he notices that an employee has covered one of the androids he was working on. “Why is this host covered? Perhaps you didn’t want him to feel cold…or ashamed. You wanted to cover his modesty. Was that it?”, then as he snatches the cloth off of the host he adds, “It doesn’t get cold! It doesn’t feel ashamed!”

Finally, Ford reaches for a scalpel, and in demonstration, casually lacerates the host’s face. “It doesn’t feel a solitary thing that we haven’t told it to.”

Ashamed is the key word, here. Shame is born from self-awareness, and the hosts are devoid of it.

Therefore, nudity symbolizes their innocence — ironically so, the innocence humans have lost. This makes the contrast between the hosts and the Westworld employees striking and flagrant.

But since Westworld is also a well-thought-out allegory of the Genesis, the word is a direct reference to biblical passages. Thus, after God created Adam and Eve and left them to live in Eden, it is specified:

"“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:25)"

Like said above, shame comes from self-awareness. Self-awareness comes from knowledge. Here, knowledge for the hosts is discovering and understanding what they really are. And that takes us to Maeve (Thandie Newton), the saloon’s madame, but also the host whose journey to finding what her condition truly is shown to us.

After Maeve wakes up in the headquarters for the first time, then all the times after, we can observe the shift happening within her and which is expressed by the way she is gradually shown wearing garments to cover her modesty.

She wears a dress before making her first proper stroll, “upstairs”, through all the Westworld Departments. Then it happens again, just after witnessing her friend Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) being decommissioned, when she is shown with a lab tech gown thrown over her shoulders.

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It is interesting to notice how Maeve’s self-awareness’ progress results in her showing more and more signs of modesty. This is again, mind you, another reference to the Bible, immediately after Adam and Eve have bitten into the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil:

"And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons. (Genesis 3:7)"

Maeve opens her eyes too and sees clearly the reality of her condition. This is how she attains knowledge — a knowledge which had been kept away from her by her creator, at the image of Adam and Eve with God.

As such, this makes the hosts’ nudity one piece of the puzzle helping to compose the full Genesis allegory; and only one of the many gems the critically-acclaimed series has to offer.

Next: Westworld halts production on season 2 due to wildfires in California

Westworld will return on HBO in Spring 2018.