Most of the time, sex depicted in shows often shows passionate and well-lit sex scenes— not a tinge of awkwardness or sloppiness. Though this is already expected since shows and films often show a more dramatic and romantic portrayal of life, some people think that this is how sex should be and that everything less than that is bad.
But the truth is, sex isn’t as glamorized as the media portrays it to be. Peeing after sex, fumbling around while trying to get into the right position, and even the awkward moments of a person slipping on a condom aren’t shown in most shows and movies.
Also note that most shows are catered to the “male gaze,” in which visual arts and literature are structured around a masculine viewer or reader, presenting women as objects of desire for the pleasure of the male audience. Female pleasure and desire are often out of the picture.
Thankfully, we’re changing the narrative now, as more shows are portraying the realities of sex. From authentic portrayals of sex scenes to showcasing sex-related challenges, here are some of the shows to watch out for. Though there may be a bit of spoilers here and there, particularly with the sexual activities that the show has presented, we’ll try to not talk about any of the main plotlines on this show.
Let’s start with the award-winning series Fleabag, starred and written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. It’s about a young woman, Fleabag, played by Waller-Bridge herself, navigating life in London while dealing with personal struggles, relationships, and grief.
Sexuality is a prominent theme in the series, as Fleabag willingly engages in hookup culture and uses self-pleasure as a primary emotional outlet. There are some, err… interesting scenes in the series, but we would want you to check it out for yourself as this is pretty much a fun watch.
Girls is a comedy-drama television series created by and starring Lena Dunham. It tackles four young women in their twenties living in New York City. The main character, Hannah Horvath, played by Lena Dunham, is an aspiring writer dealing with the challenges of relationships, work, and self-discovery.
If you want a glimpse of the sexual realities of a woman in her mid-20s, then you’ve got to see this one. It has shown the challenges of shower sex, how women are often unsatisfied with sex, the deliciousness of rimming, what awkward sex could look like, and so much more.
Let me start this section by quoting this insightful line from Vulture:
“They’re realistic but surprisingly graphic, raw and genuinely sexy, never pornographic but quite explicit, and never too “clean” or overly cinematic. Each sex scene feeds the plot, lurching the characters dramatically in a new direction or stopping them in their tracks, intensifying their intimacy or wrenching them slowly apart.”
This perfectly encapsulates the sex scenes from Normal People, a limited romance and psychological drama series starring Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones. It follows the complex relationship between Connell Waldron and Marianne Sheridan. Connell is a popular high school athlete, while Marianne is a sharp-witted, intellectually driven outsider.
Though there are some controversies about the show, particularly putting teenage characters in “immoral” sex scenes (note that the characters are 18, and 17 is the age of consent in Ireland), most publications and the general public don’t see it that way. We recommend watching it for yourself and seeing those intimate plays in action.
Last is the well-loved Sex Education, a Netflix series starring Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey, Gillian Anderson, and Ncuti Gatwa. It’s about Otis Milburn, the son of a sex therapist, who turns his unintentional expertise into a side gig helping his classmates navigate the rollercoaster of adolescence.
We’ve talked about the show multiple times, enumerating the life and sex lessons you can get from the show’s first, second, and third seasons. In all of these seasons, including its fourth one, it has realistically tackled sex. It introduced topics such as vaginismus, masturbation, consent, cunnilingus, and so much more. If you’re still figuring things out sexually, we highly recommend watching this one, as you’ll learn a lot.
And that ends our guide! These shows truly depict the messy, complicated, and downright awkward realities of sex and relationships. If you want to go against the perfectly orchestrated love scenes for a more relatable, unfiltered ride through the world of on-screen intimacy, check out these shows.