Much has been written about how this is the golden age of television. Much less has been written about how this is the golden age of sex on TV. Flavorwire’s Elisabeth Donnelly recently did just that, writing, “It may be true for the ‘prestigious’ likes of HBO shows that are generally led by men where your creators and showrunners are referred to as auteurs, but it’s not the case with three shows that are doing a great job of showing sex as a part of life in all its weird complexities: Girls, Transparent, and The Affair.” But this renaissance is hardly limited to those three. The last year has brought a slew of sex scenes that range from rawly realistic to richly symbolic to knuckle-bitingly sexy. We’ve rounded up the most memorable of these moments. Taken together, they show sex as hilarious, deeply human and, perhaps most important, as a legitimate form of storytelling. It’s about time.
HBO's now-dead undead series is known for its wild sex scenes -- and yet there was one obvious standout from the final season. Two words: Eric and Jason. In the show, it's only a dream sequence, but in my heart it is so, so real. Here's a video, and here's the GIF that will playing in my head for always:
If you haven’t seen Jamie and Claire get down on their wedding night in the STARZ time-travel romance “Outlander,” you just haven’t lived. This cheese-tastic fan video -- set to Portishead, naturally -- will give you a good idea of why. Or there's this GIF summary:
"Sons of Anarchy"
In November, “Sons of Anarchy” kicked off an episode with a more-than-two-minute-long montage of sex starring six different couples. This caused the Parents Television Council to issue the following statement: “Last week’s episode of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ opened with the most sexually explicit content we’ve ever seen on basic cable, content normally found on premium subscription networks like HBO or Showtime.” High praise! The annoying clip below is the best I could find -- but it's worth enduring just for the shots of Jax’s muscled back.
Not all notable sex scenes are sexy. Carrie Mathison's seduction of Aayan, the teenage nephew of a Pakistani terrorist, "is certainly one of the weirdest and most inappropriate things she's ever done, and that's saying something," writes Price Peterson at Vulture.
Flavorwire recently pointed to Showtime's "The Affair" as proof that "it’s a golden age of sex scenes for grownups." Indeed, what grown-up hasn't fantasized about seeing McNulty -- I mean, Dominic West -- engaged in an illicit tryst?
"House of Cards"
Frank, Claire and Meechum. It was the "WHOAH" heard 'round the world.
"You're the Worst"
This FX romantic comedy, which follows two supremely messed up people as they fall in love with each other, is filled with laugh-out-loud sex scenes that are sometimes so funny that they actually become sexy, if that makes sense. The show's red band trailer gives a peek at my favorite clip (at 1:41), in which Gretchen insists on watching Jimmy masturbate.
"Masters of Sex"
There are plenty of scenes to pick from in this HBO series about legendary sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, but the most compelling coupling on this show has to be between Libby, Masters' wife, and Robert, a black civil-rights activist. Again, with the fan videos!
This Amazon Prime series by the brilliant Jill Soloway is a must-watch, period -- but the final episode of the first season delivers one of the most complex sex scenes of the year. Sarah, who is having an affair with Tammy, sneaks off to the laundry room with her husband, Len. (If that sounds confusing, it is.) What follows is some great dialogue about sex toys versus "a warm, hot, throbbing cock," and, well, you'll have to watch to find out what happens next.
Not even gonna pretend like I've ever watched this DirecTV series about ... what again? There's no need, not when there are clips of a Nick Jonas sex scene so readily available online.
I couldn't go and leave Don Draper's threesome off this list, now could I?