From infrared cameras to headboard mics: The defining sex scenes of reality TV

A tryst on "Big Brother" shocked viewers -- but as Juan Pablo reminded us, reality-TV sex is par for the course

Published July 8, 2014 11:00PM (EDT)

Monday night's episode of the U.K.'s "Big Brother" has the other side of the pond in a tizzy. You see, Playboy model Kimberly Kisselovich and entrepreneur Steven Goode were caught by night-vision cameras getting busy under the covers. There is moaning, conspicuous comforter movements and an odd moment where Goode is heard saying, "Open it." "Open what?!" the entire audience wanted to know. Soon enough #openit was trending on Twitter.

As evidenced below, this isn't the first time that reality TV has given us a sex scene that is at once euphemistically edited and creepily invasive while also showing next-to-nothing.

"Big Brother," Jade and Tommy

Long before Kimberly and Steven, there was Jade and Tommy on "Teen Big Brother: The Experiment." It was the first time "Big Brother" contestants were shown having sex. All the action is captured on infrared cameras, but the thrusting under the comforter is plenty vivid. Shortly thereafter Jade runs to the bathroom and says, "My mum is gonna be so ashamed of me."

"The Bachelor," Juan Pablo and Clare

Clare knocks on Juan Pablo's door at 4 a.m. and they wade into the ocean.  "The waves were wild and obviously we got a little wild too," Juan Pablo tells the camera. Cut to footage of the two making out -- and probably a whole lot more -- in chest-deep water. The editing plays up the unknown: Clare tells the camera, "We just went for it and I don't regret it," she said. Later, of course, Juan Pablo infamously slut-shames Clare. As Willa Paskin wrote in Slate: "The next day, Clare gave a toast 'to finding love, being loved, and making love,' only for Juan Pablo to take her aside and tell her that, 'I hope nobody knows. It was a little weird for me. I’m too fair with people … Maybe it wasn’t right.'"

All of "The Sex Box"

As I wrote last year, "The Sex Box" is a U.K. show that asks "couples to have sex inside an opaque soundproof box and then cross-examine[s] them about said sexin’ immediately afterward." At the time I commented that "it sounds like the precursor to pornographic reality TV" -- little did I know that soon thereafter pornographic reality TV would become a reality.

"The Real World: Chicago," Cara

Twenty-two-year-old Cara was unlucky enough to join "The Real World" during the first season to feature night-vision cameras in the bedrooms and mics in the headboards. In the video below (around the 7:10 mark), you'll find just one of many intimate moments that aired on the show. In another episode, she's shown in bed tearing open a condom -- the hidden mics capture the sound perfectly -- before the camera cuts.

"The Real World: Miami" threesome

Today's young whippersnappers know nothing about good reality-TV sex. Make-outs in hot tubs? Drunken triple-kisses? Night-vision amateur porno? Pssh! None of it can compete with the first-ever reality-TV threesome on "The Real World: Miami." Mike, Melissa and a random waitress go skinny dipping and then end up in the shower. A cameraman hovers outside the bathroom window, catching every single moan and "oh yes!" These shots are interspersed with scandalized commentary from roommate Dan (a highlight: "I'm never am going to look at that shower the same way again; that's not supposed to happen. That, like, upsets the cosmos of things. I expected the earth to stop rotating at that point"). Eventually, a snooping roommate decides to try to climb through the window to get a better look -- and just before she makes it inside, and just before cutting to commercial, there is the sound of shattering glass.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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