There was a time in film and TV when nudity and sexual content was non-existent. There were even times when a married couple would be depicted as sleeping in separate beds. A lot has changed since the beginning of TV. Now, intense sexuality and graphic nudity can be found on some of the most successful TV series. Cable television, paid subscriptions and online streaming have less restrictions and makes it possible for the series to get away with a lot more. ABC’s NYPD Blue was one of the first shows to depict people engaging in sexual acts. They didn't show any nudity and most of it was in the dark. However, it was highly suggestive. Now it’s common for some shows to feature sexy and beautiful people in steamy, hot and sweaty sex scenes that can get viewers all hot and bothered…wait…what were we talking about? Oh, yeah, sexual content on TV. There are fewer restrictions with violence and sexual content nowadays, however it can still cause controversy. Here is a look at 15 TV shows that feature a lot of sexual content.
15 Boardwalk Empire September 19, 2010 – October 26, 2014
Boardwalk Empire revolved around Enoch “Nucky” Thompson who was one of the top gangsters, politicians and bootleggers in Atlantic City during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The series aired on HBO and the network is known for pushing the boundaries when it comes to violence and sexual content. The series was universally critically acclaimed. Critics praised the series for its directing, cast and writing. The show featured brutal violence, intense sexuality and graphic nudity. Yes, even in the 1920s people were looking for some sweaty, intense and steamy action. The series featured a lot of sexual content and sometimes pushed the envelope on what they could do. The series did tremendously well and was nominated for several awards.
14 Weeds August 7, 2005 – September 16, 2012
Weeds revolved around Nancy Botwin who begins to sell marijuana in order to support her family after the sudden death of her husband. She and her family go deeper and deeper into the criminal world. The series aired on Showtime and was a major success for the network. The series was critically and commercially acclaimed. It was praised for its writing, cast and directing. The series was also praised for its anti-hero protagonist. The show was full of nudity and intense sexuality.
13 Sons Of Anarchy December 3, 2008 – December 9, 2014
Sons of Anarchy revolved around Jackson “Jax” Teller, a member of the motorcycle club, The Sons of Anarchy. It aired on FX and was critically acclaimed. It was praised for its writing, directing and outstanding cast. In particular, critics were blown away by the performance of Katey Sagal. The series was known for being brutally and graphically violent. The show also featured graphic sexuality and intense sexual content. However, the sexual content was actually tied into the story. Initially, the SOA focuses their business on illegal gun running but it’s a dangerous business. Jax becomes president and wants to make changes, one of the changes being to go legit. The SOA then go into the adult entertainment business. They’re very successful.
12 Mad Men July 19, 2007 – Present
Mad Men revolves around the lives of advertisers working at a fictional advertising agency in New York during the 1960’s. It centers on Don Draper a very talented advertiser who is lying about his past. The series airs on AMC and achieved some of the highest ratings for the network. The series is a tremendous critical and commercial success. It has been universally praised for its outstanding writing, phenomenal directing and incredible cast. It has also been praised for its portrayal of the 60’s. The series deals with the issues of sexism and adultery of the 60’s. Almost all of the main cast characters cheated on their significant other. So, there are a lot of beautiful people having intense and steamy sex in the 60’s.
11 Spartacus January 22, 2010 – April 12, 2013
Spartacus was a historical drama that revolved around Thracian gladiator Spartacus, and him leading a slave rebellion against the Roman Republic. The series is inspired by the life of Spartacus. The series aired on Starz for three seasons, plus one prequel mini series. It originally starred Andy Whitfield in the first season but he was diagnosed with cancer and was replaced after his death. The series was critically acclaimed and praised for its writing, directing and cast. It featured brutal violence, course language, graphic nudity and intense sexuality.
10 The Sopranos January 10, 1999 – June 10, 2007
HBO’s The Sopranos is widely regarded as one of the greatest series of all time. It’s considered to be a groundbreaking show the helped changed TV because of its cinematic approach. The series revolved around New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano, who starts to see a therapist because of depression, anxiety and panic attacks. He struggles with balancing his home life and criminal life. The series was universally critically acclaimed. Critics praised the writing, directing and acting. The series was one of the first to depict brutal violence, intense sexuality and graphic nudity. Tony was a part owner and frequent guest of a strip club, The Bada Bing. The strip club and topless women were prominently featured in several episodes. The series won 21 Prime Time Emmy Awards.
9 True Blood September 7, 2008 – August 24, 2014
It’s a well-known fact that vampires are the sexiest, hottest and most promiscuous supernatural beings (werewolves are a close second). True Blood revolved around telepathic waitress, Sookie Stackhouse, as she deals with vampires, werewolves and other supernatural forces. The series aired on HBO and was critically acclaimed. The series was known for its graphic violence and strong sexual content. It wasn't only the vampires and werewolves, but the humans too would engage in some of the steamiest, hottest and sweatiest sex scenes on any TV show. The series featured graphic nudity and intense sexuality. True Blood won the Prime Time Emmy for Outstanding Cast.
8 Skins January 17 – March 21, 2011
Skins was a teen drama that aired on MTV for one season. It was a remake of the UK series of the same name. The UK version was a massive critical and commercial success that ran for 7 seasons. The series was known for its realistic and unapologetic look at teenage life. It often depicted teenagers engaging in drug use and teen sexuality. The US remake caused an enormous amount of controversy for some of the same reasons that made the UK version so successful. The UK version did cause some controversy with its storylines but nowhere near the controversy of the US remake. Both versions featured intense sexuality, promiscuity and strong sexual content. The US version was criticized by some groups because of the teen sexuality and compared it to child p**nography. This was mainly because most of the cast was under the age of 18. However, MTV defended the series and many critics noted that the child p**nography claim was ridiculous. MTV cancelled the series because they felt it failed to “connect with the US audience”.
7 Orange Is The New Black July 11, 2013 – Present
Orange is The New Back follows the lives of inmates and guards at a female federal prison. The series centers on Piper Chapman, who entered into a lesbian relationship with a drug smuggler. Piper transported illegal drug money for the drug ring. Later, she cleaned her life up and got out of that business. Years later, she is convicted for her crime and sent to prison. The show is one of the most successful Netflix original series. The series is critically and commercially acclaimed. Orange Is The New Black has been praised for its writing, cast and the perfect balance of drama and comedy. The series features violence, graphic nudity and intense sexuality.
6 Sex and The City June 6, 1998 – February 22, 2004
Sex and The City was a massively successful sitcom that aired on HBO. The series revolved around the lives of four female best friends in their 30’s and 40’s, living in New York City. It followed them as they dealt with love, friendships, relationships and of course, sex. That should be obvious because it’s not called The City. The series also dealt with such issues as, promiscuity, femininity and safe sex. The series featured intense sexuality and graphic nudity. It’s considered a groundbreaking series because it was one of the first to feature strong sexual content. After the series ended, two feature films and a prequel series was released. The series won 7 Emmy Awards, 8 Golden Globe Awards and is widely considered one of the best shows of all time.
5 Queer As Folk December 3, 2000 – August 7, 2005
Queer As Folk was a groundbreaking series that aired on Showtime. It was a remake of the British series of the same name. The series followed the lives of 5 gay men and a lesbian couple living in Pittsburgh. The series was a tremendous critical and commercial success. It was universally praised for its phenomenal writing, incredible directing and outstanding cast. The series was known for tackling controversial and taboo subjects, such as, same-sex marriage, cruising, recreational drug use, AIDS/HIV, discrimination, gay adoption and coming out. The series featured hot and steamy sex scenes. The series was the first ever to depict a simulated sex scene between two men.
4 Girls April 15, 2012 - Present
Girls follows the lives of 20-something female best friends struggling to make it on their own in New York. The series follows them as they deal with love, life, friendships and sex. It’s created by Lena Dunham and is based on her own real experiences. The series airs on HBO and has been praised for its cast, directing and writing. One of the main topics the series routinely deals with is sex and relationships. The series won a Prime Time Emmy for outstanding cast.
3 Californication August 13, 2007 – June 29, 2014
Californication revolved around novelist writer, borderline alcoholic and womanizer Hank Moody, who suffers from writer's block. The series was a massive critical and commercial success. It aired on Showtime for seven seasons. The series was praised for its writing and cast, and featured recreational drug use, graphic nudity and intense sexuality. In Australia, some conservative groups boycotted the show because of its strong sexual nature and content. The series won two Prime Time Emmy awards for cinematography in 2008 and 2009. David Duchovny won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in 2008 for his role as Hank Moody.
2 Game Of Thrones April 17, 2011 - Present
HBO’s Game of Thrones is a massive critical and commercial success. It’s a medieval fantasy-drama set in the fictional Westeros and Essos. It features an ensemble cast and follows several complex storylines. It’s based on the novels A Song of Fire and Ice, written by George R.R Martin. The series is universally praised for its outstanding writing, incredible directing and phenomenal cast. However, the series is also known for its violence, intense sexuality and graphic nudity. The nudity and sexual content has received an enormous amount of criticism. Many critics feel that the sex and nudity has little to do with the plot and the purpose seems to simply be to pleasure the eyes of men. Also, it’s been pointed out that a majority of the nudity is women. Regardless, the series remains a tremendous success and has won several Prime Time Emmy Awards.
1 Masters of Sex September 29, 2013 - Present
Masters of Sex is a universally critically acclaimed Showtime drama, set in the 1950s and 1960s. The series is based on the biography, Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, The Couple That Taught America How To Love. It revolves around researchers, Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who were pioneers in the understanding of human sexuality. The series is critically acclaimed and has been praised for its writing and directing. Critics have praised the two main leads, Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. Obviously from the title, the series features strong sexual content, and features authentic sexual devices from the 60’s, intense sexuality and graphic nudity.
Fun fact: The series created the first ever-transparent sexual device with an attached camera from scratch, known as Ulysses.