Nudity has been employed by probably the biggest production house on television, HBO, more frequently than any other. In a startling flurry, HBO has managed to produce shows with some of the most intimate and graphic scenes. The network is known to dabble in adult content and has never shied away from using sex and nudity to make the shows appealing while also using them as plot devices to further the narrative. Some TV shows scale down the use of graphic scenes depending on how they serve the story, while others push the envelope, keeping the audience on their toes about what to expect next. The following shows on HBO do it best.
21. Deadwood (2004-2006)
Created by David Milch, ‘Deadwood’ is a Western drama starring Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Robin Weigert, Molly Parker, and Dayton Callie. The series is set in the late 1800s and revolves around the characters who live in the town of Deadwood in South Dakota. It showcases corruption and crime underscored by the lifestyle of the old West, which, not to mention, involves a lot of graphic nudity, too. You can check out the show here.
20. Looking (2014-2015)
Created by Michael Lannan, ‘Looking’ is a comedy-drama starring Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez, Russell Tovey, Raúl Castillo, and Murray Bartlett. The story is set in modern-day San Francisco and revolves around three gay men who are friends. The show focuses on how they maneuver through personal and professional life and the complexities and nuances that are involved in the two sectors. If you are interested in an LGBT narrative, you can stream this show right here.
19. Euphoria (2019-)
‘Euphoria’ is a teen drama adapted from an Israeli series of the same name created by Ron Leshem and Daphna Levin. It stars Zendaya, Sydney Sweeney, Hunter Schafer, Alexa Demie and Barbie Ferreira. The series revolves around a group of high school students, including 17-year-old Rue, who is a drug addict. After coming out of rehab, she is catapulted toward her earlier lifestyle by her queer friends, all of whom are part of a teenage landscape underscored by sex, drugs, and sometimes violence. You can watch ‘Euphoria’ here.
18. The Deuce (2017-2019)
Created by David Simon and George Pelecanos, ‘The Deuce’ is a gritty period drama series starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Franco, Margarita Levieva, Emily Meade, and Chris Coy. The story showcases the rise of the porn industry in New York during the 1970s and throws light on what is called the Golden Age of Porn while also incorporating money, organized crime, corruption, and drug epidemic during the era. You can stream ‘The Deuce’ here.
17. Insecure (2016-2021)
‘Insecure’ is a multiple Emmy-nominated comedy-drama created by Larry Wilmore and Issa Rae, who also stars in the series alongside Yvonne Orji, Jay Ellis, Natasha Rothwell, and Amanda Seales. Partially adapted from Rae’s web series ‘Awkward Black Girl,’ ‘Insecure’ surrounds the life of a modern-day African-American woman and how she handles her career and her relationship. This is done from the POV of two women, Issa and Molly, who are best friends who undergo the American experience and all that it has to offer, including its many challenges. You can stream the show here.
16. Tell Me You Love Me (2007)
Created by Cynthia Mort, ‘Tell Me You Love Me’ is a drama series that explores intimacy and the problems that it brings. It does so by showcasing the lives of three couples and one therapist that all three couples share. The cast includes Michelle Borth, Sonya Walger, Tim DeKay, Adam Scott, Ally Walker, Ian Somerhalder, and Jane Alexander. The nature of the show makes for a realistic depiction of sex, and you can stream it right here.
15. Entourage (2004-2011)
‘Entourage’ is created by Doug Ellin and stars Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara, and Kevin Dillon. It is based on the life of Vincent Chase who is a famous actor working in the Hollywood industry and navigates the showbiz landscape of Los Angeles with his friends and agent. The fact that the series has 26 Emmy nominations to its name, out of which it has won 6, proves its authenticity as a show that deals with the movie business. You can stream it here.
14. The Wire (2002-2008)
Created by author/former police reporter David Simon, ‘The Wire’ is a crime drama series starring Michael K Williams, Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Idris Elba, and Wendell Pierce among others. The series is set in Baltimore, Maryland, and in each season, it deals with a separate drug network that the particular cops unit has to bust. The networks include the streets, the harbor, the politics, and the newspaper. Considered one of HBO’s flagship shows, ‘The Wire’ has received widespread acclaim from viewers and critics alike. You can stream it here.
13. True Blood (2008-2014)
Created by Alan Ball, ‘True Blood’ is based on the ‘The Southern Vampire Mysteries’ novel series by Charlaine Harris. The huge ensemble includes Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Alexander Skarsgård, Deborah Ann Woll, and Ryan Kwanten. The series takes place in the fictional town of Bon Temps in Louisiana and, on the microcosmic level, revolves around Sookie Stackhouse, who is a waitress with telepathic powers who falls in love with a 174-year-old vampire. On the macro-cosmic level, the series deals with the struggle of vampires (they have made their presence known to humans) for equal rights, while a section of the two species thrives on hatred for each other and exploits the so-called truce. You can stream the show here.
12. Oz (1997-2003)
A correctional facility, a.k.a. “Oz,” turns into the battleground as the two dominant alphas vie for supremacy and survival. ‘Oz’ captures the struggles and cadence of prisons like nothing else. Woefully honest and brutally realistic, the show’s strength lies in its facsimile display of power dynamics and the constant challenges to sovereign authority. The stellar cast deserves praise for going all out to be as authentic as possible in their roles. The nudity, though uncomfortable, gives a holistic and comprehensive rendering of an experience to the viewer, deterring them from committing crimes and going to jail. You can watch the series here.
11. Rome (2005-07)
Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, two ordinary Roman soldiers, turn into heroes after their arena feats. Their lives change as they witness the fall of a republic and the creation of an empire. This epic-drama was a surprisingly satiating watch. Normally, epic historicals lack the epic element and often turn out to be uninspiring and drab. Well, not ‘Rome’. A beautiful conflict of suppressed obedience and galore and an itching urge to conquer it all, ‘Rome’ does a superlative job of taking us back to the days of gladiators and war-ridden cities. The two leading men, as brilliant as they are, don’t shy away from full-frontal nudity, boldly embracing the opportunity to set the screens ablaze. Pretty aesthetic. You can check out the series here.
10. The Pacific (2010)
‘The Pacific’ is one of the best mini-series of the 2010s. Harrowing and almost soul-crushing, the show’s visceral and polemic display of war and conflict-torn areas is truly precedent-setting. The soldiers’ trauma and pressure in maintaining normalcy is a defining characteristic of the mini-series. Lebec’s mournful death and the subsequent nudity were astoundingly surprising and, in a sense, a befitting adieu to life’s miseries. For anyone looking to study trauma and human behavior in challenging times, this show is a living thesis. You can stream the series here.
9. Girls (2012-17)
Lena Dunham’s brilliant characterization of a young, independent, and somewhat lost girl took ‘Girls’ to unprecedented heights. In an otherwise uninspiring storyline, which is languid at best, the characters breathe new life onto the screen. It is their brilliance, especially Dunham’s, which keeps the show alive and running. In a sense, the nudity is representative of the free spirit that younger generations have, or crave, to lead their lives in an extraordinary fashion. Also, a huge shout-out to Adam Driver, who was a phenomenon and a delight in the show. You can stream the show here.
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8. Vinyl (2016)
When Martin Scorcese tells a story, we blanket up and listen. His eponymous creation with Mike Jagger met a sorry end as HBO canceled the show just after one season. With decent enough ratings and a master like Scorcese at the helm, the decision is weird and seems uninformed. The character of Devon Finestra will remain affectionately etched in the history of the small screen as being one of the most gorgeous and sensual of all time. People’s initial reaction to the show being canceled was due to them being deprived of Wilde’s heavenly comeliness. Alas, it wasn’t to be. You can stream the series here.
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7. Sex and the City (1998-2004)
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis, this fan-favorite rom-com series revolves around a group of 4 women who are the best of friends and explores their ever-changing sex lives. Naturally, with so many beautiful women in the show, makers couldn’t resist showing some skin. You can stream the show here.
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6. Togetherness (2015-16)
The creepily erratic and mysteriously beautiful genius of Mark Duplass can’t be limited in words. They just can be used as a devilish hint towards what lies ahead. His brand of cinema is niche and appeals to very few who can comprehend him, but for them, it is an ethereal experience. ‘Togetherness’ is a sassy take on the daily struggles of middle-aged adults, just compounded four times into one sorry house. The eerily funny and engaging narrative deals with how they navigate through the daily trifles in their lives, just about making ends meet. The nudity is tasteful and very common, like it’s not a big deal, as in real life. You may stream the show here.
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5. Hung (2009-11)
A former high school sports legend turned middle-aged high school basketball coach, Ray has one thing that every man and woman aspires for. The former in them, the latter in the former. ‘Hung’ ran for three roller-caster seasons and lit the screen on fire. Riding on Thomas Jane’s scintillating and humorous turn as the socially depraved loner-coach, ‘Hung’ is totally worth your time, and you can watch it right here.
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4. True Detective (2014-)
The first season of the show has no match in television history. Individually standing as a season, the Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson starrer is the greatest season of all time. Dealing with themes like corruption and betrayal, ‘True Detective’ features some of the steamiest nude scenes ever filmed. Especially the ones with Daddario. Go ahead and watch it, not because of the nudity of the body, but the nudity of the soul. You can stream ‘True Detective’ here.
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3. Boardwalk Empire (2010-14)
Something this beautiful shouldn’t be beautiful just by virtue of being beautiful. The mind-numbing experience that is watching ‘Boardwalk Empire’ is almost ineffable. Featuring a galaxy of stars and the very best off-screen personnel, its visceral and toned thematic expressions are probably the best of all the HBO shows. Gleefully capturing the gritty mafia essence of the 20s, the show features some shocking and raw nude scenes. The spontaneity of it certainly takes you aback in the immediate moment, rendering a more soothing alleviation in the aftermath. You can watch the series here.
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2. Westworld (2016-2022)
‘Westworld’ is truly mindblowing. The aesthetics and the engaging storyline have prompted the critics to label it as one of the best shows over the past few years gone by. Set in a futuristic amusement park, the show has not shied away from going raw with nudity. The human specimens, which require them to bear it all, have been uncompromisingly featured in the show. Run by none other than Jonathan Nolan, ‘Westworld’ sets a cathartic trend that should unequivocally be adopted and exhumed by other shows. You can stream the series here.
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1. Game of Thrones (2011-2019)
‘Game of Thrones’ indubitably sits atop the tele throne of best shows. The show’s unbridled popularity among the masses has more than one reason. One of them, though, is nudity. Almost every episode has a game-changing scene, which takes the series a different way. Identifiable for having some of the most iconic sex scenes in television history, GoT, as affectionately abbreviated by fans, has nude imagery running thickly through its DNA. You can experience this masterpiece here.
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