Mainstream TV/film with adult content similar to HBO's "Rome"?

I just watched the first episode of HBO’s “Rome.” Besides really liking it (how could it not get renewed?), I was quite surprised by the level of explicit sexual content. Is there any other recent (say, 1990 or newer) mainstream TV series or movie (fiction, not documentary) with this level of sexuality? Is “Rome” a pioneer here?

I’m not familiar with Rome, but there was plenty of explicit sexuality in mainstream movies in the late 60s-early 70s (for instance, Last Tango in Paris or I am Curious (Yellow), A Clockwork Orange and even Cry Uncle).

There was a backlash in the late 70s and that sort of explicit sexuality became unusual.

I need a definition of “mainstream.” If it means “US network” then the closest you’re probably going to get is NYPD Blue, which debuted before 1990. A number of characters appeared in nude scenes (from the rear and/or above the waist, no full-frontal) and the sex scenes were fairly steamy.

If you’re including cable (which I assume you are since your example is from a cable station) then the US version of Queer as Folk, which included explicit (simulated) sex and a lot of full frontal male and female nudity debuted in 2000.

I feel like most shows on HBO show this much sex–“Big Love,” “Sex and the City,” “The Sopranos.” You truly haven’t lived until you and your parents have both seen Tony Soprano get off from screwing a young twenty something year old girl in Vegas, or A.J. getting a faceful of gigantic tits in his face at the Bing.

Out of the HBO shows that I’ve seen (Deadwood, The Wire, The Sopranos, Big Love, Six Feet Under, Curb Your Enthusiasm,) Rome is by far the most explicit. With good reason too, since the biggest appeal of the show was that it stayed true to the Roman era.

I wouldn’t call it a pioneer. The Sopranos is what really ushered in more original cable programing along their ability to show more adult content.

It’s not TV, it’s HBO.

By definition, a cable service that’s only available to households that specifically order and pay for it is outside the mainstream. It gets to be much more explicit than most network or free cable stations that come automatically. There are a few exceptions, like the Independent Film Channel that shows uncut art movies, but almost all programming that is available just by hitting the remote can’t compete in explicitness.

Other pay cable channels more than compete, from Playboy and Penthouse channels to the million pay-per-view adult channels.

True explicit penetrative sex has been a part of a number of arthouse movies in the past few years, and I don’t believe that explicit sex is ever shown on HBO.

Really, HBO is in the middle, just where it should be. It’s more explicit than free mainstream television and far less explicit than places you seek out just for the sexual content.

Wikipedia lists a few HBO examples, noting that such activity is usually blurred.

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that as long as they are solely cable and not broadcast, networks can show whatever they want. The government only has authority to censor broadcast networks. That cable networks do not go to the level of HBO is, I’m pretty sure, because they don’t want to offend advertisers. But there is nothing legally stopping, say, TNT from showing a big old pair of boobs during the breakfast hour if they want.

Of course, some scolds are trying to give the government authority to ban “indecency” from cable TV, including HBO.

To be honest, I’m pretty familiar with the customs of American TV. I’m not looking for an explanation of HBO, because I understand it pretty well. I’m wondering whether we’re going to see more of this … or if we already have. I’ve seen most of the shows Lakai lists, but really they don’t go anywhere near Rome.

Right. That’s why IFC can show uncut movies. Nobody watches them. :slight_smile:

I didn’t even hint that any government censorship was involved. It’s just the way the market works.

I don’t see anything changing. HBO and Showtime already take more chances in programming and that will continue. Other cables networks won’t.

Non-mainstream movies have become more explicit and probably will continue to do so, but they’ll hit a backlash as soon as they try to become more mainstream.

The only real question is whether the networks will get so desperate for viewers that they’ll start allowing naked flesh and the FCC will have to go along. I give that a 50-50 chance over the next decade.

Otherwise the market has hit an equilibrium with everybody where the public approves. It will take a real shock to the society to change that very much, except around the edges.


HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me has fairly explicit sex. I could swear I saw actual penetration, but the moment passed so quickly it might have been wishful thinking.

Rescue Me – lots of sex, and Denis Leary’s ass.

HBO’s Oz had lots of sex and full frontal male nudity. Chris Meloni, I’m looking at you! Not sure Oz counts as mainstream though.

As a young teenager, my folks had the Playboy channel. I watched it as much as possible (for the articles, natch).

10 years later, in the late 90’s, I subscribed myself. I was shocked to see that they had added a hardcore night, dubbed “directors cut” that was a full fledged porn movie, with penetration. All it lacked was the pop-shot (which I have since learned does not exist in pay-per-view for some odd reason).

Happily shocked, but shocked nonetheless.

I was going to mention IFC (Independent Film Channel) as well. They show very graphic films, including NC-17 rated, I believe.

The money shot is absolutely included in pay per view porn.

It was when I had Dish Network, but is not now that I have cable.

Yes it is. I have Charter cable. I won’t invite you to my home to see one, which would be creepy anyway, but I assure you there is a money shot in just about every title.

Stuff like Nip/Tuck, Sex and the City, Sopranos and Six Feet Under were on free-to-air networks here, uncut. Just thought I’d gloat. OK we haven’t had Rome yet, but it might come over.

Which enlightened naion do you live in?

I hardly watch broadcast US TV at all anymore because of the absurd censorship rules.