The era of cord-cutting and the advent of streaming video has left us in a cultural Twilight Zone. When cable first started, part of the big selling point over vanilla broadcast TV was “no censorship.” Everything out in the open, drop as many F-bombs as you please, and we even saw the Playboy channel and the much-memed “Skinemax” due to Cinemax’s penchant for showing soft-core porn after dark.
Then, of course, the nannies came, as they always do, and cable had to tone it back. Well, we’re seeing the same pattern play out now with streaming video. While the web at large is a positive haven for porn, as free as the air, streaming video is cautiously trying to side-step international laws about how much skin you can show and when. But in the meantime, they’re having fun skirting the line as much as they can.
Here’s our list of Netflix streaming shows that show a taste more skin than the average drama:
- Elite – high school drama
- The L Word – dude, lesbians!
- The Borgias – period 16th-century aristocrat drama
- Daredevil – Marvel superhero soap
- Luke Cage – another Marvel superhero soap
- Easy – urban noir anthology
- Shameless – UK family drama
- The Tudors – another 16th-century aristocrat drama
- Queer as Folk – dude, gays and lesbians!
- How To Get Away With Murder – law school drama
- Scandal – political drama
- Orange is the New Black – dude, female prisoners!
- Being Mary Jane – media drama
- Marvel’s Jessica Jones – spin-off Marvel superhero soap
What does this list tell us about current western culture? Well in the first place, there’s not one, not two, but three comic book stories with sex crammed into them, a fact which should be accompanied by the toll-free number for a suicide prevention hotline whenever we report it, but we digress. There’s also a fascination for the exotic – if you roll them together with Game of Thrones, our whole culture is on a renaissance kick where we like to imagine middle ages people enjoying general naughtiness when in reality, people in this time had a few too many fleas to be this sexy. Or we have the babes-behind-bars genre, as seedy as it ever was.
Only a few shows attempt to depict real people having real sex lives without couching it in some escapist fantasy. And that’s the state of TV sex today – never the main course, but a nice garnish sometimes.