Back in the days of yore, it was a rarity to even see a post-sex "we're under the covers" scene on television. But TV has become slightly more progressive and open-minded about intercourse (yay!), which makes sense considering it's a daily/monthly (hopefully) part of most adults' lives. In other words, sex is normal, and there's no reason to shy away from it on television.
On that note, here are the most gorgeous, graphic, and in some cases groundbreaking sex scenes on the small screen.
The sex scenes that Jessica Jones shares with Luke Cage range from empowering (hurrah for women having agency!) to jaw-to-the-floor epic. And honestly it's impossible to pick just one, so you can enjoy a bunch of ~moments~ above. That said, filming these scenes is not sexy: "It's so choreographed, there’s really nothing sexy about it," Krysten Ritter said. "If you’re going to have to do a scene like that, it’s not terrible to do it with Mike. He’s all right looking. But he is also just a nice guy and always has your back. I always felt really safe and protected."
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 out there?). Enjoy this video, and this quote from Jamie Clayton: "It was mainly just Lana [Wachowski] 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."
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 and Eric have sex in a snowy wonderland while covered in fur.
And FYI, Anna 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 thanks to the show deciding incest is something we should all casually be fine with—but this scene between Jon Snow and Ygritte is definitely the most gorgeous of the bunch. And weirdly, despite being a couple in real life, Kit 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!"
Talk about breaking taboos. While Mari 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 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 said. "And then I'm like, 'Grace, 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."
'The Handmaid's Tale'
The sexual tension between Offred and Nick was through-the-roof during The Handmaid's Tale, and was all the more potent due 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 is uniquely gifted to shoot such scenes—he's a man with no filter. And Lizzie 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."
That's right—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 show 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," Dan Savage 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."
'Queer As Folk'
Brian 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 and Tina 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," Jennifer Beals said. "So we could watch the video and see what worked and didn't work and analyze why it didn't work. It didn't work if people weren't fully committed to it."
Hello, did you know Henry Cavill (AKA 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 sex scene for you to sweat over (YAY!), but nothing beats Claire and Jamie's 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," Sam 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."
'Sex and the City'
Who can forget the episode of Sex and the City where Samantha finds a young farm hand and has sex with him in the barn? No one, that's who. Because it's been etched in our eyeballs for all eternity.
While Phillip and Elizabeth's 69-ing scene is probably the most "OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING?!"-inducing on The Americans, but the best and sexiest sex scene happened in episode one—where after a solid hour of resentment and sexual tension, the couple had car sex. And it was so. Epic.
FYI, the pair are dating in real life—and no, filming sex scenes isn't that weird, though Matthew Rhys does get protective: "I get a little 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.'"