Where television was once the domain of cheap sitcoms, sports you couldn’t make it to, and the evening news, it’s now become the go-to place for high quality entertainment. The kind of stuff Hollywood was making from the beginning. A side effect of that switch is the unexpected increase in both the quality and quantity of sexy TV antics. All of a sudden, TV dramas were scripting sex scenes that’d rightly make Hollywood jealous. Our picks here aren’t gratuitous, thinly veiled porn clips either. Much like our favorite movie sex scenes, these are clips that characterize people, advance plots, and showcase the chemistry between actors and characters.
House of Cards (Season 1, Chapter 8)
Zoe Barnes and Frank Underwood
House of Cards is one of the single-most intelligently written TV shows of our generation. Whether you’re enthralled by Washington or cringe at the mere utterance of the word “election,” this show has plenty of reasons for everyone to watch.
For us, one of those reasons came in Season 1, Chapter 8, when Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), a rising political journalist with the Washington Herald, meets her then-source Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and does whatever she has to in order to keep him as a source. The scene basically involves Underwood going down on Barnes while Barnes is on the phone with her father wishing him a Happy Father’s Day. It’s an incredible scene, even despite Spacey’s creepy “Aren’t you going to wish me a Happy Father’s Day?” line at the end, and it perfectly shows the lengths the denizens of Washington will go to to stay on top. Watch
You’re the Worst (Season 1, Episode 1)
Jimmy Shive-Overly and Gretchen Cutler
In the first episode of You’re The Worst, a shockingly good TV show for a romantic comedy-kind of thing, Jimmy (Chris Geer), a self-involved writer living in LA meets Gretchen (Aya Cash), a depressive PR executive, at a wedding that they’ve been kicked out of or left early. The sex scene is actually three or four scenes, really, where Jimmy and Gretchen have that intense kind of all-nighter, one-night-stand sex most people only dream about. There are cigarettes, champagne, food, intense oral, and even a sleep apnea machine involved, and what we love most isn’t just that it’s incredibly sexy and authentic, but that it’s also kind of, as cheesy as it is to say, sweet.
Mad Men (Season 5, Episode 1)
Megan Draper and Don Draper
When we think of the best shows on TV, Mad Men ranks near the top for several reasons. We love the style, the cultural and historical tie-ins, the writing, the partying, and, yes, the sex. And while Don Draper (John Hamm) had his fair share of beautiful women throughout the show’s seven-season go of things, none of them caught our eyes the way Jessica Pare did as Megan Calvet Draper, his secretary-turned-wife, and no scene quite as much as the after-party cleanup scene in Season 5’s premiere. Megan, distraught that Don didn’t enjoy the party, begins cleaning up in black lingerie, the whole while lashing out at Don for not appreciating nice things. Don, realizing she is actually seeking his attention, steps in and does what Don Draper does best; grabbing her, taking command, and bringing her down onto the carpet with him. The camera cuts away, but not before viewers get the idea that some wild sex is to follow.
Game of Thrones (Season 3 Episode 5)
Ygritte and Jon Snow
When Jon Snow finally laid down with Ygritte, the Free Folk captive with whom he’d fallen deeply in love, we remember standing around and clapping as Jon broke his vow of celibacy. Aside from getting to learn that the clothing she was wearing criminally—criminally—undermined her beautiful figure, we got to see what will go down as one of the steamiest sex scenes in a show known far and wide for its gratuitous (and sometimes completely unnecessary) nudity. It turns out that Jon Snow did know a thing or two after all, eh? Watch
Game of Thrones (Season 3 Episode 3)
Podrick and Prostitutes
After saving Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) at The Battle of the Blackwater in Season 2, Tyrion rewards Podrick by assisting in him losing his virginity. Now, we concede here that we don’t really see any of the sex. Rather, we see three beautiful and exceptionally talented (and flexible) women of the night seducing our good friend Podrick, who seems more terrified than excited. The camera cuts away, but we hear about the encounter later, in which all three women report that shy, timid, and tepid Podrick is actually the best lay they’ve ever had. You’ll have to see the scene to know exactly what we’re talking about, but we promise it’s sufficiently tantalizing. Watch
Orange is the New Black (Season 4 Episode 6)
Poussey Washington and Brook Soso
For those of us who’ve never done a stint in an all-women prison, it has been astounding to learn just how much sex actually happens behind those four walls—at least, according to Orange is the New Black. The show is sexualized by nature and there’s plenty to go around, but nothing really quite captured viewers like the relationship between Soso (Kimiko Glenn) and Poussey (Samira Wiley). Their shower scene in Season 4 (Episode 6) was intimate and incredibly realistic, and because of that, came across as something very sexy and real. Well, as sexy and real as fully clothed lesbian prison sex at the bottom of a shower could possibly be. Watch
True Detective (Season 1 Episode 3)
Marty Hart and Lisa Tragnetti
We know, we know… Yes, we’re including a sex scene that involves Woody Harrelson on our list of favorite sex scenes, but the good news is that he literally has nothing to do with anything. His clothes stay on, he keeps his stupid twangy mouth shut for the most part, and he even spends most of the scene handcuffed. The real winner here is Alexandra Daddario, who plays Harrelson’s much younger mistress. Not only does she let the man drink whiskey, but she also cuffs him for what we imagine was one of the best blow jobs any man has ever received… Ever. Jokes aside, Daddario is an absolute dream woman in this scene, and the fact that she wastes her time on someone as ugly as Harrelson does nothing more than give us hope! Thanks for taking one for the team, Daddario!
Westworld (Episode 5)
Aside from being the best TV show to hit HBO since Game of Thrones, Westworld stunned audiences with its incredible storytelling, visually stunning cinematography and special effects, and its incredible cast. Of course, who gives a shit about all that when it also broke the internet after Episode 5’s insane four-minute-long orgy. Yes, that’s right… Four whole minutes. There’s no one or two distinct characters, as the people getting busy are all extras. But the scene is filled with some of the raunchiest, wildest sex we’ve ever seen on TV.