Too Hot to Handle
If junky reality TV is your thing, you can’t do much better than the ridiculously entertaining Too Hot to Handle. Essentially Netflix’s answer to Love Island, it brings a cast of very-sexy-only contestants from around the world to an idyllic private Mexican location. Literally based on “The Contest” episode of Seinfeld, it’s hosted by a prudish virtual assistant named Lana who takes prize money away from them every time the cast members it on. Which is pretty much all the time.
The Queen’s Gambit
Who knew chess could be this libidinous? While it’s short on actual sex, The Queen’s Gambit imparts Anya Taylor-Joy’s every match with the push and pull of a lustful tease. It doesn’t hurt that Taylor-Joy is a former model, or that her competitors are way too good-looking to be chess phenoms.
Creator Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies) assembled this anthology series following various Chicagoans as they figure out love, sex, and the chaos of modern life. It’s hit or miss, but there’s enough talent in the cast to keep it compelling. Don’t skip the threesome episode with Orlando Bloom, Malin Akerman, and Kate Micucci.
She’s Gotta Have It
Spike Lee has a reputation for densely political movies (the masterful BlacKkKlansman), but he doesn’t get enough credit for how damn hot his work can be. It goes back to his seminal She’s Gotta Have It (1986), which he’s turned into a Netflix series centered on a liberated Brooklyn woman navigating romance among three men.
If you haven’t already watched it, do yourself a favor and binge Weeds, the mature-rated Showtime series about a suburban mom who resorts to selling cannabis to prop up her lifestyle. It’s sexy in the way everything Mary-Louise Parker does is sexy.
Premium cable isn’t afraid of throwing a little (or a lot) of sex and nudity at the screen to keep you plugged to a drama show. A story about a Chicago family struggling with their alcoholic father (William H. Macy) may not seem like a likely candidate, but there’s plenty of titillation along the way.
The sex appeal of Outlander is legendary at this point. The historical fantasy is as much about being transported back to brutal 1700s Scotland as it is about characters finding solace between the sheets.
Historical dramas about dynasties love to get explicit, and few do it like The Tudors. The lush Showtimes series stars Johathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII, a married man who took mistresses as he pleased.
In classic CW fashion, everyone on Riverdale is preposterously good-looking. But the sort-of adaptation of the Archie comics is also worth viewing for the cool stylization and David Lynch-lite mystery.
Orange Is the New Black
Netflix’s acclaimed comedy-drama mostly avoids the stereotypes of depictions of all-female prison life, but it doesn’t shy away from the sexual and romantic partnerships that inevitably occur inside those gray walls. (Even a male guard gets involved.)
Dear White People
Like the movie that came before it, Justin Simien’s series looking at the lives of black students at an Ivy League college is sharp, funny, and rife with sexual politics and awakenings that veer from uncomfortable to charming.
We should preface this by mentioning that this soapy thriller follows a sociopathic bookstore owner/serial killer who falls for a customer. It’s a dizzying, dark look at romantic obsession, and though our protagonist is hardly one to root for, Season 2 has its steamy moments.
Judd Apatow’s Love explores male and female perspectives on the sometimes awkward act of modern courtship with real heart and laughs, and this being from Apatow, its fair share of sexual antics.
House of Cards
Somehow the power-hungry DC players on House of Cards always find time for some (frequently naughty) trysts with people who they may or may not be using to get a leg up.
Friends from College
This sharp-witted comedy from Francesca Delbanco and Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Neighbors) went underappreciated and was canceled after two seasons, but its portrait of the messy, romantically interconnected lives of 40-something Harvard alumni is worth another look.
Hey, superheroes need love too, even the blind ones. The first Netflix MCU show out of the gate connected Charlie Cox’s Daredevil with the fellow superpowered being Elektra (élodie Yung), giving them a romance in between their assassinations.
The light, frothy Zooey Deschanel sitcom is one of the better network comedies to come out in recent years, with a cast that has legitimate chemistry. There’s nothing outrageous here—just attractive people trying to figure out love (and frequently stumbling).
Marvel’s Jessica Jones
See above, except this time a better-than-ever Krysten Ritter, who finds herself falling for beefy Luke Cage as she fends off evil.
Marvel’s Luke Cage
Okay, so the Netflix Marvel shows are generally pretty sexy. Perhaps the best series of the now-canceled bunch is Luke Cage, with Mike Colter as the superhero of few words. Plus the welcome addition of Rosario Dawson.
“Gory, sexy, and ludicrous,” as Vanity Fair put it, The Witcher stars Henry Cavill as said witcher, a magical monster hunter who makes time for hot and heavy bedding of a quarter-elf sorceress (Anya Chalotra)… in case that’s your kind of kink.
The underrated, short-lived Borgias from director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Interview with a Vampire) follows the Borgia family in Renaissance-era Italy as they ruthlessly and violently clim their way to power. In addition to the sumptuous, spare-no-expense production design, it doesn’t lack for Showtime-appropriate raunch.
An amusingly kooky look at a former medical resident turned zombie (Rose McIver) who uses her undead powers to solve crimes (yes), iZombie also doesn’t shy away from its protagonist’s love life.
International shows on Netflix tend to pack a bit more heat than their American counterparts. Case in point: Unstoppable, a Mexican comedy-drama about three friends who embark on a life-changing road trip to Oaxaca.
This popular British comedy primarily focuses on the discomfort of teenage sexuality, but it’s assisted by Gillian Anderson as a sex therapist with a proclivity for one-night stands.
The British Crashing from creator/star Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) is a quick six-episode watch about property guardians living in a disused hospital, who quickly find themselves confronting the thick sexual tension in the group.
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