Amanda Marcotte blasts the prevalence of inaccurate portrayals:
On TV, torture almost always works. The victim usually knows the information, and gives it up immediately. In rarer cases, they know nothing but are able to stop to torture by stating this fact. Either way, they respond positively to torture, and somehow the tormentor magically knows when their victim is speaking the truth. What we know from real life examinations of torture is that the reality plays out very differently.
Alyssa Rosenberg points to a plotline in this week's episode of "Game Of Thrones", including the above scene, as an example of a better model:
The Harrenhal interrogators ask the same set of questions to every person they talk to, no matter where that person comes from or their likelihood of knowing any relevant information. These people are torturing their victims because they enjoy doing so. These scenes are all about giving us information about the torturers, to draw a line between the characters who behave like human beings and those who exist and act beyond the laws that govern the rest of us.