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It was only about 10 years ago that TV characters couldn’t even say “damn” on-screen, let alone settle in for a graphic romp in the sack. But we’ve come a long way, baby, and TV shows are all about the sex. And while there’s a time and place for family-friendly content, it’s just as important to keep up to date on what you want to switch on after the kids have gone to sleep. So, because we all deserve it, we’ve done extensive search on the best sex scenes in TV — here are our findings.
For one thing, it’s remarkable just how far sex scenes in TV have come. Nowadays, it almost feels as though TV shows are competing with each other to see who can push the boundaries the farthest, like American Horror Story’s famous Lady Gaga orgy scene. The creative juices are flowing as series after series comes up with all sorts of sexual positions and acts to show — and we aren’t complaining!
We’re also finally at a place where homosexual sex is shown (almost) as freely as heterosexual sex, with shows like Orange Is The New Black and The L Word: Generation Q ushering in a new era of queer couples to lust after. It took way too long to get here, but we’re so here for the new, queer, bare-it-all era of sex on TV. It’s so important to have diverse representations of different sexual relationships and dynamics on TV. It’s also just hot.
To prove our point, we’ve rounded up 35 of the best shows that have had the most graphic sex scenes on TV. Consider it a streaming playlist.
A version of this article was originally published in July 2016.
‘Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story’
Although Bridgerton‘s spinoff show, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, grappled with some more intense subjects than the original series, the show was none less steamy than the original. In fact, Queen Charlotte (India Amarteifio) and King George (Corey Mylchreest) have a chemistry onscreen so palpable it’s hard not to get steamy when they’re alone together.
Most graphic sex scene: In the third episode of the series, titled “Even Days,” the two make a pact to have sex on even days in the hopes of getting Charlotte pregnant. Although they’re still in the hate part of their haters-to-lovers saga, the two share some graphic sex scenes together on those even days, from having sex on the dining room table as their staff rushes out of the room to a scene of Charlotte interrupting George’s shower only to join him in it, clothes and all‘Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story’ $6.99/ month
‘Tell Me Lies’
Hulu’s Tell Me Lies tells the story of Lucy (Grace Van Patten) and her friends during their first years in college. Right when her freshman year begins, she begins a far-from-healthy relationship with Stephen (Jackson White).
Most graphic sex scene: Although Lucy and Stephen share plenty of steamy sex seasons on the show, their steamiest was probably their first time hooking up. At that moment, Stephen proved to Lucy that her sexual fantasies were just beginning to come true.‘Tell Me Lies’ $7.99/ month
Starring Hollywood stars like Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris and Aaron Paul, Westworld is set in a futuristic fantasy park where a group of android “hosts” deviate from their programmers’ carefully planned scripts. The tensions between the so-called robots and the humans is palpable.
Most graphic sex scene: During the first season of the HBO hit, the show spared no limits in a a glamorous, gold-painted orgy scene. “We wanted to do something that’s epic,” co-executive producer and supervising director Richard J. Lewis told The Hollywood Reporter after the scene went viral. “To that effect, we had some stylists. We really curated the scene to the T. Sometimes, to me, it has almost a medieval flavor. You can’t categorize it, because it’s so uniquely strange and beautiful in a way.”
Stream it on HBO Max.
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’
The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian television series based on Margaret Atwood’s poignant yet horrifying best-selling book with the same name. Starring Elizabeth Moss in the main role, the show follows June (renamed as Offred) as she’s sentenced to be a handmaid and to be bear children for childless government officials.
Most graphic sex scene: Undoutedly when Nick (Max Minghella) and June (Moss) finally have sex after their sexual tension reaches a new high. Powerful, sexy and beautifully shot!
Watch it now on Hulu.
Starring Naomi Watts and Sophie Cookson, Gypsy follows a therapist who gets way too immersed in her patients’ lives. She then is caught between her life as a wife and mother and an illicit affair with a woman. It may have only lasted one season but wow, did Netflix turn up the heat with this one.
Most graphic sex scene: Honestly, any time Jean and Sidney were together, you knew something super sexy was about to happen.
Watch it on Netflix.
‘The Night Manager’
The Night Manager is a British drama that follows a night manager whos recruited to do some dangerous stunts. Starring Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston, this action may make you jump, but it’ll also make you feel hot.
Most graphic sex scene: Bay far, the sex scene between Hiddleston’s character and Elizabeth Debicki’s character. However, US viewers may be a bit bummed when they hear that the US cut the scene with Hiddleston’s bare butt.‘The Night Manager’ $4.99/Month Subscription
The beloved show Sense8 followed a group of people who are deemed a threat by the world order because of their unique abilities.
Most graphic sex scene: If you’ve seen the show, you know exactly what we’re going to say: that insanely-hot orgy scene between a diverse group of people.
Watch it on Netflix.
‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’
Chances are, you were just as obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer as we were (still are). The iconic show followed a group of high school kids as they battle supernatural forces in their town Sunnydale.
Most graphic sex scene: So sorry for the Buffy and Angel shippers out there, but the sex scene between Spike and Buffy was unreal. After flirting and tensions boiling, they finally got down to business in Season Six.‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ $4.99/Month Subscription
‘How to Get Away With Murder’
When you find yourself in the sort of high-pressure legal tangles that many of the How to Get Away With Murder gang do, it seems only sensible to destress and live for the moment with as many steamy encounters as you can get, and that’s definitely the case in this superb Shonda Rhimes show.
Most graphic sex scene: Whether it’s Nate and Annalise, Laurel and Frank or Connor and Oliver, HTGAWM isn’t shy about presenting a diverse mixture of sexuality in an equally hot manner. But it was the third episode of Season 2, in which Connor and Oliver finally get to be intimate with each other after weeks of having to wait, that provided us with a sex scene full of unbridled kinetic passion and intrigue.
‘American Horror Story’
Sometimes sexy, sometimes horrifying and generally always at least a little controversial, American Horror Story has shown some pretty out-there sex scenes in its time.
In the past, the show was criticized for its exploitative and violent portrayals of sexual assault (most notably in Season 1, Murder House, and Season 5, Hotel), but when AHS gets the vibe right, the consensual sex scenes it features feel fresh, daring and powerful.
Most graphic sex scene: All other sex scenes can go home, because Lady Gaga and Matt Bomer had a bold and sensual foursome in Hotel that was eye-popping, brazen and erotic — that is, right up until the two vampires exposed their true nature and slaughtered their newly found sex pals to bathe in their blood.‘American Horror Story’ $7.99/ Month Subscription
Shameless really runs the gamut when it comes to the sex scenes they show — and like the show itself, it’s sometimes darker than you’d expect. Still, there’s plenty of enthusiastic, kinky sex to go around.
Most graphic sex scene: Fiona and Robbie’s kitchen hookup (interrupted by her boyfriend and his brother, Mike) is pretty burned into our brains.
Watch it on Netflix.
Essentially an episodic buffet of sex for messed-up writer Hank Moody (David Duchovny) to enjoy on the regular, Californication loved showing off an endless parade of naked young women on a weekly basis. It was basically Charles Bukowski’s Women translated into a TV format, providing countless opportunities for male fantasy fulfillment alongside eyeroll-worthy depictions of female sexuality.
Most graphic sex scene: An MMF threesome featuring Hank, his friend Charlie and a woman they meet at the gym is, shall we say, pretty bold.‘Californication’ on Hulu $7.99/ Month Subscription
According to The Tudors, things were hot and heavy in 16th century England. Or at least, wherever Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ King Henry VIII went.
Most graphic sex scene: King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s first hookup will rock your world.‘The Tudors’ $7.99/ Month Subscription
Netflix’s Sex/Life seriously puts it all out on the table — and we really mean all of it. Right from the first episode, former wild-child turned suburban, married mom of two, Billie recalls just how much crazy, passionate sex she used to have with her old flame Brad. As she revisits her past while still very married to her husband Cooper in the present, we see even more of Billie’s life as a party girl in NYC.
Most graphic sex scene: You could pick a number of the scenes in Sex/Life for this. But we’d like to give a special shout-out to the scene where Billie and Brad take their seriously sexy first encounter into a rooftop pool…while there’s a storm happening…with lightning and thunder.
Watch on Netflix.
Bridgerton made waves right away for its Regency-era courtship drama — and for its hotter-than-hot sex scenes. Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor’s enemies-turned-co-conspirators-turned-lovers builds up the sexual tension in all the right ways for when they can finally really go at it.
Most graphic sex scene: Daphne and the Duke’s wedding night in episode 5 is the release of so much anticipation for both of them and they hold absolutely nothing back.
Watch on Netflix.
Netflix anthology series Easy includes many a candid look at the sex lives of Chicagoans in vastly different points in their lives — including a few people for whom a threesome is the next sexual adventure they’re itching to check off their bucket list.
Most graphic sex scene: Any opportunity to see Orlando Bloom in a threesome seems like a good enough reason to tune in but his scene with Malin Akerman and Kate Micucci is especially titillating.
Watch on Netflix.
Surprisingly raunchy royal drama The Great tells the story of the life — and loves — of Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) amid her marriage to Emperor Peter III of Russia (Nicholas Hoult). But it’s her sex scenes with lover Leo Voronsky (Sebastian de Souza) that really piqued our interest.
Most graphic sex scene: Catherine’s first sex scene with Leo at the end of episode 3 is the steamiest look into her love life after Peter’s lackluster efforts with her in bed.‘The Great’ on Hulu $5.99
‘Sex and the City’
Sex and the City was pioneering for women who had yet to see their female friendships and sexuality portrayed on TV in a way that felt both real and completely fantastical. And though Miranda, Carrie and Charlotte gave us sex scenes that we could relate to, Samantha gave us daring scenes of fantasy fulfillment that could be both erotic and hilarious.
Most graphic sex scene: Basically, whenever and wherever Samantha found herself a man to love, you could depend on the sex scenes that followed to be bold and brazen, leaving little to the imagination. Specific props go to the time that she discovered and explored all the sexual creativity that could be had in a sex swing and the time she decided to play out her fireman fantasies by having sex with one in full uniform while he was on shift at the firehouse.‘Sex and the City’ $9.99/Month Subscription
‘Masters of Sex’
Focusing on two pioneering human sexuality researchers, Masters of Sex was a bold revelation that was educational and fun. On an equal, electrifying par to the graphic sex scenes were the repeated moments of intense, distanced passion between Virginia (Lizzy Caplan) and Bill (Michael Sheen).
Most graphic sex scene: After some seriously drawn-out sexual tension had built up between them, Libby and Robert finally made their feelings clear for each other (and Libby finally got laid).‘Masters of Sex’ $24.99 per Season on Amazon.com
‘Orange Is the New Black’
Though there’s been plenty of hetero hookups, Orange Is the New Black is pure fire when it comes to realistic portrayals of lesbian sex, especially when Laura Prepon is on screen.
Most graphic sex scene: We could sit here all day and talk about the many times that Alex and Piper have shaken the grounds of Litchfield with their screeching sex sessions, but it was a postcoital shot of Carrie “Big Boo” Black from Season 3 that was like nothing else on television.
In a flashback showing her recovery from some spectacular-sounding sex with her girlfriend, Boo is content and sweaty, smiling in a strap-on, in a beautifully graphic moment that you couldn’t help but applaud.
Watch it on Netflix.
The relationship between Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones and Mike Colter’s Luke Cage in this Marvel series is one of the hottest things ever to happen to Netflix — and they don’t shy away from their chemistry.
Most graphic sex scene: This show doesn’t exactly make you wait for it. The first time these two get it on in the pilot is well worth a watch.
Watch it on Netflix.
Suits may have only been the jumping-off point for now-Duchess Meghan Markle, but it was a pretty swanky jumping-off point nonetheless. This legal drama spent season 1 teasing and building up the romance between Mike and Rachel (Markle), and their sexual tension seriously paid off.
Most graphic sex scene: When Rachel finally learns the truth about Mike, they have no more secrets keeping them apart — and soon after, they have no more clothes keeping them apart either.
Yes, Gossip Girl was a show about unrealistically hot teens getting it on, but all these actors were well into their 20s, so we feel okay about it. Chuck and Blair were totally the steamiest of the couples, though many a scene between Dan and Serena (or Nate and one of his many women) left us hot and bothered too.
Most graphic sex scene: After putting on a highly out-of-character striptease, Blair (Leighton Meester) finally gives in to her attraction to Chuck (Ed Westwick) and climbs on top of him in the back of his limo, kicking off a years-long sizzling romance.‘Gossip Girl’ $4.99/Month Subscription
‘You’re the Worst’
You’re the Worst is the kind of raunchy, occasionally gross comedy you wouldn’t necessarily expect to turn you on — but Gretchen and Jimmy’s unabashed enjoyment of each other’s bodies is undeniably hot.
Most graphic sex scene: While this show doesn’t shy away from graphic throughout its five-season run, some of the most enthusiastically shown sex happens in the very first episode, when Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash) go home together for an all-night bang sesh and first realize their insane chemistry.‘You’re the Worst’ $6.99/Month Subscription
Carnival Row is an ambitious fantasy tale of love, war, and politics, but there’s nothing complicated about how Philo (Orlando Bloom) and Vignette (Cara Delevingne) feel about each other. This show’s sex scenes are like its aesthetic: over-the-top and magical.
Most graphic sex scene: When Philo and Vignette first give in to their attraction to each other in an early flashback, all bets are off. The strength of their passion for each other is so vivid we have no trouble seeing why they’re pining for each other all these years later.
As a Shonda Rhimes show, it’s basically required that Scandal have plenty of hot sex scenes for its powerful female leads, and Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope definitely cleans up. While her main love interest is Fitz (Tony Goldwyn), there’s plenty more fantasy fodder along the way.
Most graphic sex scene: On one of Oliva and Fitz’s many make-up scenes, he pulls her into a nearby electronics closet to make up for lost time, and it’s clear how much these two have missed each other while apart.‘Scandal’ $6.99/Month Subscription
‘Queer as Folk’
Based on the groundbreaking UK show of the same name, Queer as Folk was the first U.S. series to show simulated gay sex, and it did so in a way that still deserves celebrating.
Most graphic sex scene: As the first gay male sex scene ever televised in the U.S., the pilot episode’s rendezvous between Brian (Gale Harold) and Justin (Randy Harrison) remains a memorable and trailblazing moment.
Watch it on ShowTime.
‘Sons of Anarchy’
It’s hardly surprising that there was so much sex in this show when you consider that the Sons of Anarchy biker gang conducted a great deal of business with porn stars, pimps and prostitutes.
As a result, though everyone enjoyed their fair share of sweet lovin’, it often felt as though barely an episode went by without the viewer being treated to Jax Teller’s bare butt bouncing up and down atop a supremely sexy lady (who sometimes wasn’t his poor wife).
Most graphic sex scene: In the first season, old flames Jax and Tara murder her abusive boyfriend and proceed to have passionate sex right next to his corpse. Call us old-fashioned, but that’s just bad manners.‘Sons of Anarchy’ $6.99/Month Subscription
The sex scenes in Empire are perhaps not always so much graphic as they are intensely hot. This show knows how to create an atmospheric sex scene full of personality.
Most graphic sex scene: If Cookie and Lucious are getting busy, then you can bet that it’s going to be a scene worth talking about. But can we also take a second to celebrate the steamy, body-positive rooftop love scene between Becky (Gabourney Sidibe) and MC J Poppa (Mo McRae)? Though no sex is actually shown between the two, the foreplay is lit, and Sidibe owns her beauty in a way that’s empowering AF.
Featuring graphic sex scenes with a twist, The Affair shows both the male and female perspectives of love affairs, often resulting in the same-sex scene being portrayed in two radically different ways.
Most graphic sex scene: Though Season 2 provided the audience with the refreshing display of a male full frontal (yowza), the pilot episode provided us with this: Noah Solloway watching from a distance as Alison, the woman he is about to start an affair with, has sex with her husband over the trunk of their car. Of course, this being Noah’s version of events, Alison is staring right back at him with unadulterated pleasure.
Featuring sex scenes as titillating as they can be deeply emotional, Outlander proves that time traveling can be supremely sexy.
Most graphic sex scene: Claire and Jamie’s wedding night, which basically gave us an entire episode’s worth of empowering erotica in the Highlands.
Watch it on Netflix.
‘The L Word’
The L Word has given us so many hot sex scenes over the years, and stand out for featuring hot lesbian sex scenes in which the women (mostly) aren’t being objectified or fetishized by men. Yay!
Most graphic sex scene: Shane and Cherie’s poolside adventure in Season 3 is seriously hot, and a rare scene featuring a strap-on.‘The L Word’ $9.99/ Month Subscription on Amazon.com
Pose has beautifully shone a light on long-overlooked ballroom culture, and with it, the queer relationships within the marginalized communities who are often drawn to the ballroom.
Most graphic sex scene: Pray Tell and Ricky’s sex scene in Season 2 was breathtaking in all its vulnerability, intensity, and yes, full-on nudity. These two share an emotionally charged moment over their HIV status, then find comfort in each other’s arms.‘Pose’ $6.99/Month Subscription
Connell and Marianne’s passion for each other in Normal People, portraying first love is magnetic and electric — even when their worlds are tearing them apart, they can’t help but find their way back to each other, and there’s some serious tearing-off-each-other’s-clothes action to prove it.
Most graphic sex scene: While Marianne’s brief BDSM relationship with Jamie is graphic in all the wrong ways, her romp with Connell in the season finale is a satisfying culmination of all their years of fumbling around in bed, both with others and each other.‘Normal People’ on Hulu $9.99
The Grey’s Anatomy cast was usually too busy saving lives to get it on — just kidding! It’s honestly a miracle any operations got done with all the hookups going down in this hospital, which means lots of urgent, half-dressed, someone could come in at any moment sex. Yum.
Most graphic sex scene: We may not be happy with Grey’s Anatomy’s decision to have Alex Karev end up with Izzy, but we have to admit their early hookups had us hot under the collar. Our favorite? Izzy’s infamous “drop your pants” line (spoiler: Alex complies).
Watch it on Netflix.