Before HBO and Netflix, you didn't have many options if you wanted to watch a no-holds-barred, graphic, sexy sex scene. But the age of streaming changed all that, and now not only can you watch literally any kind of nude movie or movie about sex you want, whenever you want, you can also catch some down-and-dirty sex on your favorite TV shows (Friends would never!). Sex is a normal, healthy, essential part of being a human in this world, and it's only right that some of the greatest TV shows now feature some of the best TV sex scenes ever.
On that note, here are the most hot, graphic, and in some cases groundbreaking sex scenes we've seen on the small screen. (If you're looking for scenes that venture more towards "romantic and passionate" territory, check out our roundup of romantic sex scenes.)
Funny TV Sex Scenes
Comedian Mae Martin plays fiery, emotional, love-obsessed Mae. A recovering drug addict, she falls head over heels for George, played by Charlotte Ritchie. George is not out of the closet and Mae is a recovering drug addict, making this dark comedy both dramatic and completely enthralling.
The sex scenes are...whew. Of all the scenes, a series of ongoing sex scenes stands out: When Mae and George role play all of their twisted, hilarious, and adventurous fantasies together. At one point Mae is wearing chainmail amour, acting as knight to George's evil queen.
This show has moments of heartbreak, sexiness, and Lisa Kudrow dressing and acting like an absolute icon so, if it isn't for the steamy, steamy gender ambiguous sex scenes, watch it for that.
You can't make a show about Catherine the Great without sex. Or, I guess you could, but why even bother, you know? In Hulu's The Great, Elle Fanning has a lot of sexy scenes with not one, but two hot leading men, Nicholas Hoult, who plays her husband, Peter III of Russia, and Sebastian de Souza, who plays her lover, Leo Voronsky. Unsurprisingly, the scenes with Leo are the hot ones.
"You know, sex is a big part of our show," Fanning told EW of working on the sex-heavy series. "And we wanted to make sure everyone's comfortable. We had an intimacy coordinator that was on set whenever we had those scenes, to make everyone feel good and make everything look real. And I had never worked with anyone like that before, but that was nice to have. And of course, I think sex is also a real big part of the real Catherine the Great's life. She was notoriously kind of beyond her time in that way. She was very open and free and loved sex, so that's obviously something that I wanted to touch upon. You see the young Catherine on her first wedding night, and it's not exactly how she was expecting it to go. And she ultimately gets a lover in Leo, they have the sex that they have, which is more loving and passionate. The sex with Nick [Hoult] and the sex with Sebastian [de Souza] in the show is very different."
Talk about breaking taboos. While Marnie (Allison Williams) and Desi's "anilingus" scene isn't exactly the definition of "graphic and gorgeous" we've included it here because it was SUCH a huge moment in on-screen sex. Sure, there are no rules on HBO, but Girls took things to the next level with this honest depiction of intimacy. And no, the actor who played Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) was nowhere close to doing the real thing.
"I grabbed the makeup girl and said, 'I want to smell like a cake,' so we put vanilla cream everywhere so everything smells good," Williams told Vulture. "And then I'm like, 'Grace [in wardrobe], we're going to rig something invisible from the side but that feels like a pillow when he puts his face into it.' And, that's what we did! You wouldn't know; it's total TV magic."
'Sex and the City'
There are hot-as-fire sex scenes and then there are fire-themed-and-still-hot sex scenes and Sex and the City will forever be champion of the latter, thanks to Samantha's fireman fantasy scene, complete with dress-up play and strip-tease.
Romantic TV Sex Scenes
There were a shocking amount of spicy scenes in Firefly Lane. Netflix’s Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke drama follows the lifelong best friendship of two characters: Tully and Kat. Choosing just one scene would actually be impossible. I'm not even kidding. You think it's going to be all hugs and drama and then—nope—lots of getting down and dirty. The top pick: The sexy montage at the beginning of Episode 3. It is next-level bangin'. Literally.
Lord have mercy if you have yet to see the Regency-era hit Bridgerton. My loins doth quake. This absolutely hot show centers around the dirty things we all love best: Super privileged b*llshit gossip, amazing corsets, and hot people.
The scene that stands out? When the newly married Duke of Hastings, Simon Bassett, and Daphne Bridgerton make their way to their sprawling estate—after a host of absolutely bonkers drama—and the two proceed to hardcore get it on all over the manor. At one point, Daphne is on a ladder inside of a sprawling library while Simon is going down on her from below. It's truly one of the hottest things to ever grace our television screens.
There are plenty of steamy scenes between Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson in HBO's Run and the chemistry they bring to every encounter between their characters, Ruby and Billy, is honestly jaw-dropping. Even more jaw-dropping? The fact that the sexiness we see on the show is toned down.
"God, earlier drafts were so much worse!" creator Vicky Jones told Harper's Bazaar UK. “People at [the show’s network] HBO were like, ‘I think it could be dirtier’ and so I’d write it so filthy that [the producer] Jenny Robbins could barely look me in the eye afterwards. Everyone was horrified! We made the actors do the whole thing and it wasn’t sexy because it was too much. We cut a lot of it back because I lost my nerve. Seriously, people were like, 'That’s gonna go straight on YouPorn – just the words!'"
Network TV Sex Scenes
'The Night Manager'
The Night Manager aired on AMC in the U.S. (and on BBC One in the UK), so the sex had to stay basic cable-friendly, but that didn't stop steamy moments. One scene in particular, in which Tom Hiddleston bared his butt while simulating sex with costar Elizabeth Debicki.
"It was quite intense... I had no idea of the effect it had," Debicki said of the now-iconic scene. "We shot it quite quickly. I didn't realize that [his butt flashing] was going on in that scene. I was looking at his face."
For his part, Hiddleston thought the nudity was NBD.
"I've come from the tradition of European film, where nudity isn't really something," he told THR. "I've seen many other more esteemed actors be infinitely more naked than me. I just don't think twice about it. It was important for the scene and no more or less significant than any of the other scenes in the story."
Good Girls may be about suburban women looking to score some extra cash by money laundering, but there's sex in there that will blow your socks off. The main character of the ensemble cast, Beth, has intense sexual chemistry with her money-laundering, gang member, drug-lord pal, Rio. Then, while she and her husband are having drinks in season 2, episode 4, the two finally do it. It's on a sink, from behind, while Beth's husband is sitting at a nearby table in the bar. It is so hot that I was shocked my laptop didn't literally melt onto my lap into a pile of goo.
The rest of the show is a little more intense and less sexy, but that's one scene that will be seared into the memories of many viewers for years to come.
When it comes to nudity-free, network TV-friendly sex scenes, they don't get much more earnest or steamy than Olivia and Fitz's electronics closet hookup on Scandal. For the record, though, Kerry Washington says IRL, filming those scenes was pretty much awkward AF.
“They’re hard to do,” Washington told Allure in 2014. “You’re doing things that you’re supposed to do with only certain people in your life. Because this is not your real partner in life, doing that is awkward. And then doing it in a room full of people is awkward,” she added.
This BBC drama might be a little under-the-radar for American audiences (it aired in the UK in 2015 and hit Netflix in 2018), but it's worth seeking out for the hot encounters between Ben Whishaw's Danny and Scottie Edward Holcroft's Alex. When they finally consummate their romance, it's so hot you'll need a cold shower after watching it. And, it's worth noting, the extreme sexiness of the scene is actually the tame version.
"I guess it has been a talking point and it’s full of things that are provocative," series creator Tom Rob Smith told The Guardian of the response to the series. "I thought a gay love story might not be embraced by everyone, but I was really surprised that Danny and Alex’s sex scene in episode one shocked anyone. It was as mild as I could have made it."
In SIn Season 2, Pose gave viewers a look into Pray Tell's love life, including a very steamy love scene between him and Ricky. Billy Porter, who plays Pray Tell in the amazing series, discussed the scene's larger culture importance during the 2019 TCA Summer Press Tour.
"I have spent my entire career never having been the object of anyone's affection or anything. Until now," he said. "Having a very loving, connected sex scene is sort of blowing my mind. My nerves are frayed, I'm going to take a Valium and watch it tonight."eason 2, Pose gave viewers a look into Pray Tell's love life, including a very steamy love scene between him and Ricky. Billy Porter, who plays Pray Tell in the amazing series, discussed the scene's larger culture importance during the 2019 TCA Summer Press Tour.
"I have spent my entire career never having been the object of anyone's affection or anything. Until now," he said. "Having a very loving, connected sex scene is sort of blowing my mind. My nerves are frayed, I'm going to take a Valium and watch it tonight."
'American Horror Story: Hotel'
In this bloodthirsty, but still very sex, sex scene, Lady Gaga herself plays The Countess, who owns the hotel in American Horror Story: Hotel. She and actor Matt Bomer, who plays Donovan, have a foursome with two others—which is steamy enough, but things are taken to a whole new level when Gaga and Bomer slit the throats of their partners as part of their orgy.
Bomer said of finding out about the nature of the scene: "You freak out a little bit for sure."
YA show Gossip Girl featured a threesome—or as close as they could get to one on a network like the CW. While the sex was only implied, this was a bold move for a series made for teenagers, and helped normalize sexual experimentation.
"The show is edgy, but we have a great relationship with the network's standards-and-practices people," Stephanie Savage, a co-creator, said at the time. "Whenever we do anything where we feel like we might be controversial, we have a lot of conversations. When we did our threesome episode in season three, we definitely caught some flack."
Empire knows how to do sex scenes. One of the show's best and most memorable—and, let's be honest, just plain sexiest—steamy scenes was the rooftop moment shared by Becky (Gabourney Sidibe) and MC J Poppa (Mo McRae). Even though the scene didn't escalate to full-on sex, it's proof that foreplay is amazing all on its own.
And, in response to some of the fat shaming hate the scene garnered (because parts of the the internet are, as we all know, a cesspool), Sidibe told EW: "I had the most fun ever filming that scene even though I was nervous. I felt sexy and beautiful and I felt like I was doing a good job. I keep hearing that people are 'hating' on it...I'm not sure how anyone could hate on love but that's okay. You may have your memes. Honestly, I'm at work too busy to check Twitter anyway."
Yes, this technically takes place when the couple are in high school, which feels weird, but Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) are 23 and 27 in real life, so consider this coupling in their mid-twenties instead. Reinhart and Sprouse are a couple both on-screen and off, so you know the chemistry is real. The hottest sex scene between the two has to be when Betty, the show's resident good girl, role-plays in a black corset and glossy black wig.
In this super-hot scene, Rachel and Mike finally give into their feelings for each other and have sex at work. Which is cool and sexy, but also, Meghan Markle is in it!
Lifetime's UnREAL was the fake Bachelor drama we all needed in our lives—and it included all of the sexiness that we can only imagine is too hot for TV on the real Bachelor. In one scene from Season 3, the show gave us a taste of what (might) go on in the Fantasy Suites (and in the crew's rooms).
'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
Buffy and Spike's relationship is one of the most controversial on the series (and in mainstream television history, for that matter). It was doomed from the start and culminated in a hard-to-watch scene of sexual assault that, for many, tainted the entire coupling. And yet...Buffy and Spike's first "love" scene deserves inclusion on this list for its graphic depiction of sex that served a purpose other than romance for the show's female lead, which was actually pretty subversive in the early aughts. In the scene, described by some as sadomasochistic, Buffy and Spike literally destroy an abandoned building while doing the deed.
Not everyone was a fan, of course, including Sarah Michelle Gellar. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she admitted that she didn't like the season that featured the Buffy/Spike relationship at all. "I’ve always said that season 6 was not my favorite," she said. "I felt it betrayed who she was. "
'Jane the Virgin'
Jane might have stayed a virgin longer than we ever could have imagined on Jane the Virgin, but she did eventually experiment with casual sex, resulting in a very sexy (or, as sexy as The CW will allow, at least) romp with a gorgeous specimen named Fabian.
Grey's Anatomy has plenty of steamy moments, most of which capture the raw, frantic, sometimes desperate nature of needing to get it on. Early on, Izzy and Alex shared one of the show's sexiest hookups. Bonus points for Izzy famously taking charge of the moment and telling Alex to take off his pants.
While Phillip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth's (Keri Russell) 69-ing scene is probably the most "OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING?!" scene on The Americans, the sexiest sex scene happened way back in episode one—when after a solid hour of resentment and sexual tension, the couple had car sex. And it was so epic.
FYI, the pair are together in real life—and no, filming sex scenes isn't that weird, though Rhys does get protective: "I'm like, 'Can someone get her a f*ckin' robe, please?!' She's standing there naked, we've cut for five seconds, Jesus Christ. And they're like, 'Dude, this is the fourth season.'"
Hot, Steamy TV Sex Scenes
'Little Fires Everywhere'
Hulu's adaptation of Celeste Ng's novel Little Fires Everywhere had plenty of sexiness, but fans were particularly floored by a scene between Tiffany Boone (playing a younger version of Kerry Washington's character, Mia) and Anika Noni Rose (playing Pauline Hawthorne, a professor who becomes Mia's mentor). The actresses involved are clearly crazy hot, but the set-up added a layer of drama that took the can't-not-watch factor to the next level. In the scene, Boone's Mia is pregnant—with Pauline's child, which she is carrying as a surrogate for Pauline and her husband.
"It’s a very complicated thing, because there is a maternal element there," Boone told Oprah Mag of the relationship. "Mia, she had such a fraught relationship with her mother—she never felt truly seen. Then she meets Pauline, someone who really sees her, understands her, supports these decisions that she’s making. This relationship that she’s been looking for with her mother is suddenly there with Pauline."
We should start by saying there is a lot about this show's narrative that starts to unravel about halfway through the season—but the sex scenes are fire. One of the things that makes this show so glorious is the centering of female pleasure.
The plot draws on the experiences of Billie, a beautiful woman married to a very hot man with an even hotter ex-boyfriend that she is currently lusting after. Her sex life with her husband is not up to snuff so Billie takes to writing in a diary, documenting the days of having wild sex in all kinds of semi-public places with her bad-boy boyfriend Brad. Billie does some pretty messed-up things during the show, but again, the sex still makes it worth a watch.
A few scenes could be considered the best—but the scene that comes to mind is the first time Billie and Brad have sex. They go to his apartment, wind up swimming in his pool naked, and he goes down on her on the side of the pavement. There are dozens of more just like this so if you're looking for something that lacks in plot but oozes in sex appeal, Sex/Life is for you.
Way back in Season 1, Insecure established that things were going to be hot AF with the memorable hookup between Issa and her high school boyfriend, Daniel (while she was still seeing Lawrence). Insecure is obviously hilarious, but star and creator Issa Rae takes prep for TV sex *very* seriously.
"I prepare just as I would for real sex," Rae told Coveteur. "It might be TMI, but I just want to make sure that I’m presentable in all areas. I want to make sure that I smell great, and I also want to make that if my partner doesn’t smell great, that I smell good enough for the both of us. But thankfully that’s never happened."
In Netflix's The Defenders, fans didn't have to wait long for a very steamy scene between Mike Colter's Luke Cage and Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple (and praise to the TV gods for that).
"Anytime you’re smitten with someone and hanging out with them for the first time, there’s a spark," Colter told Entertainment Weekly of the characters' red hot romance. "That newness makes everybody excited."
Speaking of Netflix's Marvel universe, in the fifth episode of Daredevil Season 2, Charlie Cox (who plays Matt Murdock aka Daredevil himself) and Élodie Yung (who plays Elektra Natchios) gifted fans with a particularly memorable love scene that proved the fine line between love and hate and between fighting and...well, another F-word-ing.
As sexy as it is to watch Daredevil and Elektra get it on in a boxing ring, though, Cox doesn't love the reputation being a sexy human on camera for a living has earned him. In a 2017 interview with The Telegraph, he said being a sex symbol makes him "horribly uncomfortable."
A lot of the sex in Ryan Murphy's Hollywood is cringe-worthy at best (the series explores the exploitative casting couch culture of 1940s Hollywood), but the romantic scenes between Jake Picking as Rock Hudson and Jeremy Pope as aspiring screenwriter Archie Coleman are swoon-y and sweet and, yeah, very sexy.
"I love how fearless Archie is," Pope told EW when discussing the importance of sex on the show. "We talk about the sex work, but it's not something we look down upon. When you watch Archie's narrative and this group of individuals, I don't think you feel sorry for them. They're hungry, they're ambitious, they want it, and they'll work hard to get it...If anything, it's teaching me to stand in my blackness with pride and strength."
In Season 2 of Netflix's sexy Spanish drama Elite, Polo (Álvoro Rico) has a hot, hot threesome with Valerio (Jorge Lopéz) and Cayetana (Georgina Amoros) that you'll probably want to watch more than once.
Speaking of threesomes, the sexy (and sometimes hilarious) one shared by Orlando Bloom, Malin Akerman, and Kate Micucci in Netflix's anthology series Easy is another must-see.
'The New Pope'
The New Pope definitely brought a new—or at least more literal—meaning to to the term "phone sex" with a scene starring Cécile de France. In spite of its religious themes, the show pushes all kinds of boundaries, especially when it comes to nudity and sexuality.
“Nudity is a part of life and I try to show life," creator Paolo Sorrentino told SBS Australia. "It’s very simple. In these last years everybody is afraid of nudity and I don't know why. You have two options: to stay dressed or be naked. I put both options. I know that the Pope in a moment of his life has to be naked and I don’t know why I mustn’t show the Pope naked, or women. If in certain scenes I think I must have sex, I must have sex. I don’t see a reason to avoid it. It’s exactly like I do with other material."
'Orange Is the New Black'
Orange Is the New Black has plenty of sexy AF scenes, but the shower scene between fan favorite pairing Soso and Poussey deserves a special mention.
"It was so great," Samira Wiley, who played Poussey on the Netflix series, told THR of her onscreen relationship with Kimiko Glenn, the actress who played Soso. People would make fun of me on set all the time, Danielle mainly, because I would come off set or when they were changing the camera setup or whatever, and I would have my arm around Kimiko and she would have her arm around me and I would be like, 'Yeah, this is my girlfriend.' And Danielle would be like, 'You are so happy to have a girlfriend this season — we get it, we get it.' It was just fun, I feel like Poussey from the very beginning has had this capacity for love and she just needed someone to give it to. And I’ve had so much fun being able to play with Kimiko."
Natalie Dormer would be hot AF in a parka, sitting alone in an empty room. So put her in naughty situations and period costumes and there aren't enough fire emojis to describe it.
So why did Dormer sign on to play TV's most sexed up Anne Boelyn ever? "When I started my career, I was grateful to get the job," she explained in an interview with ES magazine. "People would say, ‘The Tudors was so hyper-sexualised, why on earth would you make that decision?’ Well, I made the decision because I was unemployed. I didn’t know what The Tudors was going to be, I didn’t have all 10 scripts; I’d just got a job, for f**k's sake."
Westworld is a show that's 99 percent about exploring sexual fantasies, so it's not a surprise that it continues to bring the sex and bring it big. In its third season, Westworld upped the sex ante with a full-on Eyes Wide Shut-level scene that took place at an auction where the wealthy bid on chances to make some of those aforementioned sexual fantasies come true.
There are truly exceptional sex scenes in Hulu's Normal People, but the hottest by far came at the end of the series, when Connell and Marianne finally knew each other—and themselves—enough to have their most satisfying sex yet. The cast achieved the show's sexy realism in the same way good sex happens in real life—by setting clear boundaries and having open conversations about their comfort levels.
"Ita [O'Brien, the show's sex coordinator] would make sure Paul [Mescal] and I would discuss the boundaries and what we were and weren't comfortable with," Daisy Edgar-Jones, who plays Marianne, explained in an interview with The Sun. "We also agreed on touch and would say, 'this area is fine but please stay off this area,' or, 'I don’t feel comfortable with this.'”
If you had a sweet, innocent crush on Mark-Paul Gosselaar back in his Saved By the Bell days, then avert your eyes, because you'll never see Zack Morris the same again once this image of the actor having sex with weed-dealing housewife Nancy (played by Mary-Louise Parker) in a dive bar is burned on your brain.
"I like it the more extreme it is," Parker said of Weeds' graphic sex scenes. "I don't like when it's sentimental, when she's a sweet mother. To me, she's not that."
Sex scenes co-starring Steve Buscemi might not immediately come to mind in lists of the sexiest sex on TV, but Paz De La Huerta's reverse cowgirl moment on Boardwalk Empire will change that. Her secret to making fake sex so truly steamy? Play the love, not the lust.
"I don’t do sex scenes, I do love scenes," the actress told StyleCaster in 2011. "Think about it in your own life. It’s always complicated. So it’s not really a sex scene, it’s about what’s happening between you and a man, a woman, or whatever. It’s about what’s going on in the relationship. They might be having sex in a a scene, but there is always something deeper. Life is complicated."
Normal People has too many amazing sex scenes to choose just one. In episode 2, Marianne and Connell consummate their love and their first time is tender, real, and endearingly awkward.
"I think that's why people really found it quite striking in the series," Daisy Edgar-Jones, who plays Marianne, explained in an interview with Nylon. "It shows a depiction of sex that is very real in all its forms. And I think particularly in their first time scene, the fact that Connell was very concerned about consent and they use protection — it's very rare that you see a scene that is both beautiful and tender and sexy, but also has those elements in it. There isn't kind of, billowing sheets and warm candlelight. It's very awkward. You know, Marianne's bra gets stuck around her arms. It's bubbly and they kind of make hesitant conversation before it happens when they both know why they're there. It's a very healthy depiction of sex."
Carnival Row arrived on Amazon Prime in 2019 to fill the Game of Thrones-shaped hole in our collective fantasy sex-loving souls, and it did not disappoint—at very least in the fantasy sex department. In Season 1, episode 3, viewers were treated to a particularly hot love scene between faerie Vignette (Cara Delevingne) and half-blood Philo (Orlando Bloom).
Showrunner Marc Guggenheim talked fairy sex specifics with The Wrap, saying: "It’s interesting that you establish that when a fairy climaxes, their wings glow. And the second time, later in the episode when she and Philo sleep together, her wings don’t glow. And it’s a way into this very critical scene where Philo is basically asking Vignette, essentially, why weren’t you mentally present? And it’s a great example for me of how the mythology that has been built into the show allows us to get to certain character moments and certain character-revealing instances. And that’s what keeps it from being crass."
I'd give Penn Badgley's sex scenes with Elizabeth Lail in the first season of You a solid A, but his chemistry with season two's lead, Victoria Pedretti (you'll remember her from the distinctly un-sexy Haunting of Hill House), is next-level. It's a totally different dynamic, and if you actively ignore the fact that he's murdering people, it's very hot.
Even though most of the season's sexy action revolved around the romance between Vignette (Cara Delevingne) and Philo (Orlando Bloom), another love story also grabbed every viewer's attention: The one between human Imogen Spurnrose (Tamzin Merchant) and faun Agreus (David Gyasi). When the two finally consummated, we couldn't look away, and admit it, neither could you.
Black Mirror tackled the intersection of sexuality and technology in its Season 5 premiere, "Striking Vipers." In the episode, best friends Danny (Anthony Mackie) and Karl (Yayha Abdul-Mateen II) hang out in an immersive VR game and soon find that they really enjoy having sex in the game as their avatars (played by Ludi Lin and Pom Klementieff), which leads to some serious IRL conversations.
'13 Reasons Why'
Again, this takes place during high school, but please remember that both actors are in their mid-twenties. Justin and Jessica have gotten together and broken up over and over again in 13 Reasons Why, but this sex scene, in which Jessica takes control of her sex life, is super spicy.
The sex scenes that Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) shares with Luke Cage (Mike Colter) range from empowering (hurrah for women having agency!) to jaw-to-the-floor epic. And honestly it's impossible to pick just one, so we selected a clip with a bunch of ~moments~ above. That said, filming these scenes is not sexy: "It's so choreographed, there’s really nothing sexy about it," Ritter has said. "If you’re going to have to do a scene like that, it’s not terrible to do it with Mike. He’s alright looking. But he is also just a nice guy and always has your back. I always felt really safe and protected."
If there was a Golden Globe for "Best Sex Scene That Also Involves Blood Sucking"—which there should be—True Blood would almost certainly win. Every intimate scene in the show is notable, but you can't beat the one where Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) have sex in a snowy wonderland while covered in fur.
And FYI, Paquin filmed it while in a relationship with her other True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer, and nah—it wasn't that awkward. "We feel completely comfortable together," she said of the process. "Steve and Alex are buddies. It's nothing like, 'Oh, hi, nice to meet you. Now take off your clothes and go into the fog.' Everyone is respectful of each other's boundaries....They're all very gentlemanly about it."
'Game of Thrones'
We've spent a lot of time thinking about Game of Thrones' sex scenes since the show decided incest is something we should all casually be fine with (which, still no), but this scene between Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Ygritte (Rose Leslie) is definitely the most gorgeous of the series. And weirdly, despite being a couple in real life, Harington says the scene was heavily staged: "It's also a very clinical procedure, you know? It's very strange," he explained. "I've never done a love scene before, and especially a nude scene, so it's very strange being naked in front of a hundred or so people. So we obviously rehearsed it a few times—fully clothed, mind you!"
If you haven't seen Sense8's orgy, you haven't lived. It's truly iconic in the world of TV sex, and a must-watch for people into orgies (anyone?). Enjoy this video, and this quote from Jamie Clayton, who plays Nomi Marks: "It was mainly just Lana [Wachowski, a co-creator] off-set telling us, 'Okay, Jamie go in. Okay, now Jamie go out.' There she was just on the side shouting out directions at all of us—like, where our hands should go and who we should kiss."
'Queer As Folk'
Brian (Gale Harold) and Justin's first hookup in Queer as Folk's pilot episode was one of the first gay sex scenes between two men on television—and that's a huge deal. "I had done graphic sex on stage already, and I just thought, It's exciting that it's going to exist," said Randy Harrison, who plays Justin. "I mean, I got frustrated with shooting sex later on in the series but, at the beginning, I just remember I was desperate for those images when I was a gay kid growing up. There were some foreign movies at the indie movie rental places that were about gay stories and sexuality that weren't pornography. When you're that desperate—they're so powerful. Especially to me as an adolescent it was—oh my god, life-changing. So I was really excited that I was going to be a part of that for other people and telling a gay story that was going to be on television." (Note: The original clip was deleted so please enjoy this epic fan-made super-cut.)
'The L Word'
The L Word was groundbreaking for lesbian representation on television, and this scene between Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Tina (Laurel Holloman) is one of the best. Mostly because it takes place in a kitchen, and there is no greater combination than food and sex. "We had to watch a sex video because we had to do all these sex scenes," Beals said. "So we could watch the video and see what worked and didn't work an'The Tudors'd analyze why it didn't work. It didn't work if people weren't fully committed to it."
Hello, did you know Henry Cavill (a.k.a. Superman) was in The Tudors? And that he had a ton of sex in it? And that said sex was so intense he got an actual erection? Yeah. That happened.
"A girl had to be on top of me, she had spectacular breasts, and I hadn't rearranged my...stuff into a harmless position. She's basically rubbing herself all over me and, um, it got a bit hard," he explained. "I had to apologize profusely afterward. It's not great when you're in a professional acting environment and somebody gets a boner, is it? No, not acceptable."
Almost every episode of Outlander comes with a handy Outlander sex scene for you to sweat over (YAY!), but nothing beats Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie's (Sam Heugen) wedding night—an epic display of intimacy that took almost half the season to get to. "Caitriona and I had already filmed a scene from episode 10," Heugen said of the scene. "When we were filming, we shot two episodes ahead so we did a scene after [the wedding]—a big breakup. It was very physical and lustful. To do this somehow felt easier, but more intimate because this was more about discovering each other. Yeah, we were both slightly nervous, which I think helps. In the scene, it's part of them finding each other. We worked it out in rehearsals what we wanted the viewer to see and not see and how we wanted it to be portrayed. Again, we don't want [the sex] to be gratuitous but it's very important for the characters and what happens to their relationship."
'Sons of Anarchy'
During its seven seasons, Sons of Anarchy pushed just about every boundary imaginable. In one particularly memorable sex scene from Season 1, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and Tara (Maggie Siff) celebrate their murder of her abusive boyfriend with a bout of passionate love making. With the corpse still in the room. As you do.
In 2017, Hunnam talked about striking balance in sex scenes. "It’s a delicate balance to strike—to be emotionally open enough to have an experience that feels honest between two people but also maintain that it’s just for the film. It’s not my favorite thing to do," he told Elle.
'Masters of Sex'
Masters of Sex has plenty of hot and steamy scenes to choose from, but one of the most graphic and, well, scientific of the series came when Lizzy Caplan's Virginia Johnson and Michael Sheen's William Masters have sex for science while hooked up to monitors.
“There’s a fair amount of sex and nudity in our show, obviously, but it never, never feels gratuitous,” Caplan said of the show's take on sex. “Without fail, when I’m watching television, I struggle to find one example of it not feeling a bit gratuitous. Our show is about sex and intimacy. Most shows are about other things. Maybe dragons? No disrespect at all, but it does feel at times that it’s like time out dragons, let’s watch these people get it on.”
'Game of Thrones'
Yes, we already have Jon and Ygritte on this list, but honestly, there's another GOT love scene that absolutely deserves inclusion on the ground of gorgeousness alone: The tender sex scene between Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson).
Th'American Gods'ese characters have had one of the greatest emotional arcs on the series and when they finally made their relationship physical, it was perfection.
In its third episode, American Gods wowed audiences with a sex scene that was at once touching, empowering, and tender. The scene, between a young Middle Eastern man named Salim (Omid Abtahi) and a god called the Jinn (Mousa Kraish), was sexy, sensual, and everything else you could want it to be.
"To portray Salim and the Jinn in a way that's sex positive for a gay man who comes from a country where homosexuality is punishable by death and you can be thrown off of a rooftop, it was very important to us...," executive producer and co-showrunner Bryan Fuller explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "In the book, Salim blows the Jinn in the hotel and then he's gone. It was important for us in this depiction to have Salim drop to his knees and prepare to achieve sex the way he'd been accustomed to, and the Jinn lifts him off of his knees and kisses him and treats him much more soulfully and spiritually to change his perception of who he is and what his sexual identity has become. That felt like it was empowering in a different way, showing a protagonist as the one who is being penetrated. That comes with all sorts of preconceptions of gender roles and what it is to be a gay man at the same time."
'The Handmaid's Tale'
The sexual tension between Offred (Elisabeth Moss) and Nick was through-the-roof during The Handmaid's Tale, and it was all the more potent thanks to the themes of female sexual repression in the show. When the two characters finally gave into their physical desire, it was completely glorious—not to mention beautifully filmed.
"That scene, to me, is really about release for June," explained Max Minghella, who plays Nick. "I felt like I was the least important factor. This society is so terrified of female pleasure specifically, so these moments of reprieve are important. That scene was simple to shoot [because] it was more primal than anything else I worked on. Mike [Barker, the director] is uniquely gifted to shoot such scenes—he's a man with no filter. And Lizzie [Moss] and I are very close and trust and respect each other. It's was a very effective combination of people to tackle a scene like that."
During its first season, Westworld went all in on a glamorous, gold-painted orgy scene. The scene was one of the most talked about during the show's explosive debut season and drew comparisons to Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.
When asked if there was ever concern that the scene went too far, co-executive producer and supervising director Richard J. Lewis told The Hollywood Reporter, "I think all of us have a modicum of taste that keeps us from taking it too far into the pornographic world and keeps it in the sensual world. I think that's important."
Shameless has given the world a lot (like, a lot) of amazing sex scenes over the years, but Season 1's kitchen sex scene between Fiona and Jimmy will always be iconic. Emmy Rossum, who played Fiona Gallagher for the show's first nine seasons, also happens to think the scene is important for showing a side of sex not often presented on screen.
"I feel like we get so used to seeing the pretty version of sex that doesn’t actually really look like any sex I’ve had," she told Collider in 2011. "You get the Hollywood girl with the blow-out who looks really pretty on the satin sheets. That doesn’t really happen. So, I think that when you’re going to show real people and real feelings, in a gritty situation, to glamorize it or be concerned about how you look during those situations would be foolish. And also, I feel like, as an adult, a lot of how you feel about yourself and what your inner workings are can be revealed in a sexual situation. As an actor, that’s fun to play."
'You're the Worst'
When it comes to sex on TV, maybe no show has embraced the very real and often not romantic realities of the act more than FX's You're the Worst, which kicked things off in its pilot with a sex scene that set up the entire series.
“Sex is always a tricky balance on television because on one side you have titillation and on the other the narrative rigors of storytelling," creator Stephen Falk explained. "So you go about it as you do with any scene: Is it revealing about character? Does it help the story? Or is it just goddamn entertaining? We clearly started off season one with a strong sex scene between two strangers who became the leads on our show. And since then, we’ve used them very sparingly to help put them in a different context in which to show what’s going on in their relationship."
The sex scene between Luke Cage and Misty Knight is pure fire in all of the best ways. Seriously, there could be no wrong with a sex scene starring these two.
"So often when we watch typical shows, a woman meets a man, they have sex, and now her entire being and existence is dependent on his opinion, how he looks at her, how he treats her. [Showrunner] Cheo [Hodari Coker] and our writers did a really good job putting Misty in a position of power," Simone Missick, who plays Misty, said of the relationship. "Where she’s like, 'I’ll call you. I know where you work. We’ll see each other later. We can keep this casual.'"
In one very memorable sex scene from Showtime's serial killer drama Dexter, the titular angel of death seemed like he was about to get his kill on with Hannah—but then got something else entirely on, instead.
"It was a mixture of vulnerability, being on that table naked about to be killed, but then it turns into this intimate thing," actress Yvonne Strahovski, who played Hannah, told Esquire of the scene. "It was my first time shooting an intimate scene so I was especially nervous on the day, but Michael being the pro that he is and coming off a show like Six Feet Under — he had to do a lot of those scenes. It was kind of like riding a bike for him."
Shameless has had plenty of sex scenes over the years, but one of the standouts came in season 3, when Lip ended up hooking up with a woman named Blake, who gave him a memorable pep talk about delayed gratification.
If you want to emphasize the "chill" next time you decide to Netflix and Chill for date night, might we suggest Altered Carbon, Season 1, episode 5, which features a particularly steamy hookup between Kovacs and Ortega.
Euphoria has made headlines with every episode, often for its depictions of sex. Episode 3, "Made You Look," made that list with a graphic, NC-17 animated (and, obviously, fictional) sex scene between One Direction's Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. The scene left many fans of the boy band outraged and, while its tastefulness is up for debate, there's no denying its impactful depiction of the intersection between fan fiction and sexual fantasy.
With a title like The Affair, this Showtime drama was guaranteed to be a big pile of sexy right from the start. Season 1, episode 6's shower scene is particularly steamy—both literally and figuratively.
By the show's fifth season, star Dominic West confessed that he was over the constant sex scenes.
“I’m really hoping I don’t have to do it too much now, we’re doing the fifth season,” he told Us Weekly. “We used to get so blasé about the sex. I remember once we were having to get into the scene and I just shouted out, ‘OK, what position should we do now?’ And we took suggestions from the crew and someone shouted, ‘Reverse cowgirl!’ I still don’t know what that is.”
Gypsy may have only lasted one season on Netflix, but the Naomi Watts-led drama will live on forever in the hearts of Jean and Sidney shippers everywhere. The red hot relationship was burned into fans' brains thanks to their hookup in the show's seventh episode.
'Dear White People'
Thanks to Gabe's paranoid brain, we're all treated to a smoking hot fantasy scene between Sam and Reggie that could make anyone thirsty.
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Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
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