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The 20 sexiest shows to stream now: Our critics sift through hundreds of options to choose the steamy shows that are truly worth watching

A steamy tale of love triangles, a racy Regency romp and an insider’s account of the secrets and scandals that swirl around Manhattan – these are all featured in our critics’ picks.

We have selected the sexiest shows to watch On Demand right now – sifting through thousands of options to save you the bother.

Can’t decide what to watch this weekend?

Read on to find out the sultry shows worth your time…

Tell Me Lies

Steamy tale of deceit and death at an East Coast US college

Year: 2022

Certificate: 15

Watch now on Disney+

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Brooding, mysterious and steamy, this ten-episode drama focuses on the lives and relationships of a small group of students at an East Coast US college. When Lucy and Stephen meet in their final year there’s an instant attraction, but this is far from the start of a happy-ever-after tale. Love triangles, secrets, deceit and even a death create ripples in their relationship that swamp everyone around them. 

As the show begins to unpick the web of lies that surrounds the pair, you begin to wonder less about whether their relationship will survive and more about whether both of them will survive their relationship. If you enjoyed Normal People, this is definitely worth a look. (One series)  

Bridgerton

Racy Regency romp that reinvented the period drama genre

Year: 2020

Certificate: 15

Watch now on Netflix

Based on the books by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton is set during the swirl of the London social season in 1813, going from ball to ball as the capital’s eligible young men and women circle each other in a high-stakes game of matchmaking. 

At the centre of this are Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings (Phoebe Dynevor and Rege-Jean Page), and watching over it all is unseen gossip queen Lady Whistledown (voiced by the great Julie Andrews), whose biting narration accompanies every romantic twist. 

It’s worth watching if you like the spectacle of the dresses and balls of period dramas, but aren’t overly beholden to the genre’s traditions, because this raunchy show is determined to push them. 

It’s produced by US TV powerhouse Shonda Rhimes (Scandal), and occasionally feels more like Gossip Girl than Pride & Prejudice. The first series reinvented the period drama genre, ramping up the excessiveness of the clothes, the houses, the romance and – yes, yes, YES – the sex. No wonder it became Netflix’s biggest hit ever, with 82 million households tuning in the first few weeks alone. (Two series)

The Affair

Dominic West is the married man who embarks on a risky extra-marital relationship

Year: 2014-2019

Certificate: 15

Watch now on Paramount+

Clever and critically acclaimed drama that not only looks at an extra-marital affair, but examines the idea of how each of us sees our own history. It starts with a chance meeting between Noah Solloway (Dominic West), a father-of-four frustrated with his life, and waitress Alison Bailey (Ruth Wilson) who’s struggling with the loss of her son. 

In the first series all we know is that both are telling the story of their affair to someone in authority; and both have their own versions of it. Over five seasons we follow what happens not only to the protagonists but their families as well, with Noah’s wife beautifully played by ER stalwart Maura Tierney. It is never not satisfying. (Five series)

Sex/Life

Raunchy series about one woman’s quest for satisfaction, based on BB Easton’s novel

Year: 2021-

Certificate: 18

Watch now on Netflix

BB Easton’s novel 44 Chapters About 4 Men arrived on Netflix in raunchy, 18-rated form. It’s the story of mum Billie (Person Of Interest’s Sarah Shahi), who rediscovers lust with an old flame after years of suburban slumber with her husband and small children. Spouse Cooper is perfectly nice and perfectly good-looking, and is clearly no stranger to the gym, but lacks the animal drives she craves – he finds talking about his job, or watching whatever sport might be on TV, more diverting than paying her the kind of attention she wants.

So Billie starts to look elsewhere for that attention, and cultivates a startling double life as an urban sex kitten, a split existence that becomes increasingly precarious in series two as Cooper, who is not the brightest star in the sky, starts to cotton on to his wife’s hidden antics with old flame Brad. The result could easily be basic and exploitative TV, but Shahi makes us believe in Billie’s needs enough for this to work as a drama. That being said, there is also plenty of room for all the smouldering glances and sweaty bedroom encounters that the story demands, and Shahi is equally adept at that side of it, too – the combination allowed the show to run for two years before Netflix cancelled it. (Two series) 

Normal People

Superb adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Irish teenage romance novel

Year: 2020

Certificate: 15

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

Based on the 2018 novel by Sally Rooney, this romantic psychological drama charts the relationship between Irish teens Connell and Marianne as they navigate their journey into adulthood, from their final days at secondary school in Sligo to their first year at university in Dublin. 

Connell is easy-going, academic, athletic and popular; Marianne is hard to like, but her family’s wealth keeps her company when her peers turn their backs on her. Of course, they fall for each other and, though not exactly Romeo And Juliet, these lovers seem destined to drift in and out of each other’s lives. 

A sensation during the first lockdown, the show transported stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal into the major league. (One series).

Industry

Addictive drama about ruthless bankers and their raunchy after-hours antics

Year: 2020-

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

This exhilarating drama is set in the toxic world of high finance in the City of London. There, at fictional bank Pierpoint & Co, a group of eager graduates, both British and American, are keen to make a name for themselves – and if that means indulging in a huge amount of drug-taking and sex, then so be it! 

Brits Harry Lawtey (You & Me) and Marisa Abela (Back To Black) lead the cast of bright young things who are sucked in by the promise of big money – but soon find that the ‘greed is good’ culture has its inevitable dark side.

Series two beings after the pandemic when Pierpoint’s employees return to the trading floor to find that the London and New York teams have been pitted against each other in a fight for survival. The unlikeable cohort of young bankers are even more hedonistic to offset the cut-throat office antics, but we also understand them better after learning more of their respective backstories. Industry is compulsive, if stressful, viewing. (Two series)

Fatal Attraction

Joshua Jackson and Lizzy Caplan star in a TV series remake of the film

Year: 2023

Certificate: 18

Watch now on Paramount+

Pride comes before a fall is the oft-used phrase, and it’s entirely fitting to the story of Dan Gallagher, the main male character in Fatal Attraction – a TV series take on the thriller starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close as Dan and his dangerous fling, Alex, that caused such a stir in the late 1980s.

The eight-parter starts in the future, when a broken-down Dan is repenting his murder of Alex from prison, then winds back to before the affair to show us a man who has everything – great job, great marriage, great life – and is about to throw it all away. Joshua Jackson is spot-on as Dan, a man at the very edge of his boyish good looks who thinks he can get away with anything, while Lizzy Caplan (Masters Of Sex) is a bit of a mystery as Alex. And the scenes between them? They’re a refreshingly slow build, and certainly tick the required boxes for steaminess. 

The sense of mystery that comes from Alex, along with the wider focus of the story that comes fom Dan’s time in prison, gives the story the legs it needs to become a series. (Eight episodes) 

Versailles

Lavish and racy drama set in the court of French king Louis XIV

Year: 2015-2018

Certificate: 15

‘A king without a castle is no king at all.’ This lavish drama opens in 1667, as Louis XIV (George Blagden), then 28, is finally freed from the control of the council of ministers that had governed France for him and is determined to find a suitably fine property in which to live and rule. 

The story is kicked into high gear when Louis asserts his newfound authority, and wrongfoots his enemies by shifting his seat of power to a magnificent hunting lodge at Versailles, where much of the action takes place. 

The drama at his scheming court is compelling, and as you’d expect from a French series, there are a lot of saucy scenes, so this should hit the spot nicely if you were a fan of The Tudors. The most expensive French television series of all time, its co-writer and producer is Simon Mirren, nephew of Oscar-winner Dame Helen. (Three series)

The Idol

Racy tale about the sleazy side of stardom – and cults

Year: 2023

Certificate: 18

Watch now on Sky

Watch now on NOW

This HBO series about a pop singer’s racy re-invention bills itself as the ‘the sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood’, and has already created heaps of controversy. 

Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, stars as pop star Jocelyn; her dark mentor in this reinvention is a sordid cult leader played by Abel Tesfaye, the singer also known as The Weeknd. 

Tesfaye created the show with Sam Levinson, the man behind the notoriously graphic HBO drama Euphoria, and did so with the pitch that, due to the fierce loyalty of his fans, ‘if I wanted to start a cult, I could’. 

There’s an interesting idea in there about the power of fame and, for some, this undeniably stylish series will appeal either as a story of female empowerment, a bold exploration of the dark side of love or even a behind-the-scenes pop satire with slickly produced songs into the bargain. 

For others, it will be a show created by men that exploits all these ideas as an excuse for being flat-out seedy. Where you sit on that spectrum will be personal, but don’t go into it expecting not to be challenged. 

For those after a comforting element amid the mayhem, there’s the surprising casting of the lovely Dan Levy from Schitt’s Creek as Jocelyn’s agent. (Five episodes) 

The Buccaneers

Fans of Bridgerton should enjoy this vibrant Edith Wharton adaptation

Year: 2023

Certificate: 15

Watch now on Apple TV+

Apple may have found its Bridgerton with this vibrant, well-cast and visually sumptuous tale of rich American girls being married to cash-poor British lords in the 1870s. It’s based on an unfinished novel by Edith Wharton that has only been adapted once before – by the BBC, in 1995 – and the story has a nice mix of light and shade, shot through with occasional belts of modern music to match the spirit of the girls. Their vibrancy collides with the stuffy British establishment and the mix of hope, romance and poignancy that follows is the meat of the story.

The cast is first-rate, especially Looking For Alaska’s Kristine Froseth as the clever Nan, who is forever accidentally overshadowing her more traditionally attractive sister. Another standout is Guy Remmers as Theo, the grumpy but soulful Duke of Tintagel, who despairs of the debutante season and would rather spend his time painting on the beach. The series itself has a complicated web of friendships and relationships that will keep you compelled from one episode to the next, and then there are all the costumes and big houses of course – no one could accuse Apple of skimping on those here. (Eight episodes) 

Obsession

Richard Armitage and Charlie Murphy star in this charged erotic thriller

Year: 2023

Certificate: 18

Watch now on Netflix

Based on a novel by Josephine Hart about a politician destroyed by the scandal over his affair with his son’s fiancee, Damage has already been adapted for the screen once – as a film in 1992, starring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche. Netflix’s series changes the title to Obsession and stars Richard Armitage, this time a surgeon, as the family man who starts making eyes at his son’s girlfriend, Anna (Happy Valley’s Charlie Murphy). 

And she more than makes eyes back at him, too. Longing looks, innuendo and rampant sexual tension are there right from the start of this series, which places the power of the relationship firmly in the hands of the woman, and jumps right into it all without explaining a tremendous amount. There’s not a tremendous amount to explain, really – that’s obsession for you. (Four episodes) 

 

The Borgias

Neil Jordan’s sexy take on one of history’s most notorious families

Year: 2011-2013

Certificate: 15

Watch now on Paramount+

Sexy, lavish and slightly soapy, this historical fiction drama created by Neil Jordan takes us deep into the conniving world of the papal family of the title. This ambitious family are happy to use everything in their arsenal from bribery to murder as part of their relentless quest for wealth and power. 

It stars Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI and Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia, the favourite of his children, but whose love life is a disaster – her husband and lover are both murdered, while her feelings towards her brother Cesare (Francois Arnaud) are unnatural. There are three glorious series to get your teeth into, although a planned fourth was canned due to the expense of the series. (Three series)

Elite

Spanish teen drama set at an exclusive private school

Year: 2018-

Certificate: 18

Watch now on Netflix

Both melodramatic and grippingly dark, this subtitled Spanish drama kicks off when a trio of ordinary working-class teens are offered places at Las Encinas, one of the most exclusive and expensive private schools in Spain. 

The culture and class clashes that follow are just the beginning. Each of the seven series begins with a devastating event then skips backwards and forwards in time to reveal not just what happens next but the stories that led up to it in the first place. The show’s seen several cast changes since its first run, but series seven remains as slick, enthralling and grown-up as ever. (Seven series) 

You

Creepy serial killer thriller that became a smash hit

Year: 2018-

Certificate: 18

Watch now on Netflix

You is one of Netflix’s biggest hits, although it actually started out on the Lifetime channel in the US before the streamer snapped it up, and transformed the serial killer thriller into a global smash. 

Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley sets the skin crawling as our star, New York bookstore manager Joe, who seems OK at first – if a bit sleazy and pleased with himself – but reveals a darker side when he becomes obsessed with a customer. 

Joe narrates the series and pulls at our sympathies as his crimes mount over the course of the show. He’s smart and funny, so easy to listen to and even start to understand or possibly root for – but he is, undoubtedly, a monster.

Series two finds Joe moving to Los Angeles and finding a new obsession, while the third heads to the Californian suburbs and gives us a dark love story that’s reminiscent of Dexter. 

The fourth goes international, taking Joe to London and (briefly) Paris. The show really does strain credulity at times, but you don’t watch this for kitchen sink drama. You is a truly addictive show that veers from unbearably tense to gasp-out-loud audacious, with flashes of humour to lighten the dark mood. (Four series) 

Game Of Thrones

Blood, sex and dragons in an iconic fantasy series

Year: 2011-2019

Certificate: 18

Watch now on Sky

Watch now on NOW

Game Of Thrones pulled off the unlikely trick of making fantasy cool again. 

Before this mighty series, fantasy was a genre unfairly dismissed as only for geeks, for people with long-hair reading Tolkien in their basement or playing Dungeons & Dragons in their bedrooms long into the night. 

Game Of Thrones changed all that. It was one of the most expensive shows on television and, in terms of ambition and scale, there was nothing to match it – others have tried since, but nothing has come close. 

Strong characters and compelling storylines pulled in a whole new audience while also satisfying existing fantasy fans: come for the mythical kingdoms and dungeons and dragons, stay for the intriguing plots and complex characters. 

The show also features a who’s who of British acting talent in almost every single role  – Sean Bean, Tara Fitzgerald, Julian Glover, Charles Dance, Diana Rigg, Iain Glen, Stephen Dillane… the list goes on and on – while also making new stars of lesser-known names such as Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage. 

The incredible aspect of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s novels is that the events that happen in the first episode are still being played out in the very last episode. 

That type of intricate plotting is rare and makes every episode as engrossing as the ones before as the action unfolds over eight series. 

The finale famously came in for some heavy criticism, but it does tie things up neatly, even if you don’t agree with the fate of every character. 

This is one series we can’t recommend highly enough, and if you’re looking for more fantasy action don’t miss the prequel, House Of The Dragon, which is also available on Sky/Now. (Eight series) 

Gossip Girl

Manhattan secrets and scandals go public thanks to an anonymous blogger

Year: 2021-2023

Certificate: 15

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

The second and final series of the reboot show has landed so this is your last chance to indulge in the tangled lives of elite Manhattan teens and the scandal that stalks them – all documented online by the Gossip Girl of the title.

Guilty pleasures really don’t get slicker than this – everyone is beautiful, well-heeled and immaculately dressed, with lives that ooze intrigue.

What’s different about the reboot is that the bitter cat-fighting that powered the original has had its claws clipped. There are queen bees in the new run – Savannah Lee Smith’s Monet and Jordan Alexander’s Julien – but there’s none of the viciousness we saw in the rivalry between Serena (Blake Lively) and Blair (Leighton Meester) first time out. That’s progress, but it’s also a little less wicked and fun. (Series 1-6 of original and Series 1-2 of reboot)

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story

A full-blooded prequel telling the story of how Charlotte married the king

Year: 2023

Certificate: 15

Watch now on Netflix

Golda Rosheuvel’s performance as the formidable, fearsome and ever-so-slightly tragic Queen Charlotte is one of the scene-stealing highlights of sexed-up period romance Bridgerton. 

]No character from the show deserves a series of her own more than she does, making this six-episode retelling of just how she came to marry George III and her struggles with the aristocracy of the day a genuine treat. 

India Amarteifio is perfect casting as the young Charlotte, all swagger and confidence as she arrives to marry a man she’s never met, but watch out too for assorted younger versions of various figures from the original how, not least Arsema Thomas as the young Lady Danbury. (Six episodes) 

Sex And The City

The continuing adventures of four women in New York City

Year: 1998-2004

Certificate: 18

Watch now on Sky

Watch now on NOW

Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda were the four women having sex in New York City, but this hit show was about far, far more than their sex lives. 

Primarily, it was about the power of their friendship, as men came and went – for some of the quartet more frequently than others (Samantha, we mean you!). Clothes and shoes were another big driving force, especially for Carrie, whose wardrobe was about more than aspiration – it was a major expression of her personality. 

It was easy for some to be sniffy about such topics as fashion and female empowerment, but the show really didn’t care and remained addictively entertaining – hilarious, honest, witty and sharp – over its award-winning six-series run, even when tackling more meaty topics (such as Samantha’s cancer diagnosis). 

After two spin-off movies that didn’t exactly set the world on fire, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon reunited as Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda for the recent sequel series And Just Like That, but Kim Cattrall’s Samantha was otherwise occupied in Europe and couldn’t join them for brunch – in other words, Cattrall said no. (Six series)

The show follows four friends Charlotte, Carrie, Miranda and Samantha

The Vampire Diaries

Epic bloodsucking teen romance series for the Twilight generation

Year: 2009-2017

Certificate: 15

Watch now on Netflix

Watch now on Prime Video

Young women falling in love with ancient vampires has become something of a cliche after the likes of True Blood and Twilight, but few stories have used it as quite so successful a storytelling springboard as The Vampire Diaries. 

Eight series of romantic and horrific adventures follow on after small-town teen Elena first encounters centuries-old bloodsucker Stefan and his brother Damon. 

Full-blooded (in every sense), The Vampire Diaries is an addictive piece of romantic TV, full of historical flashbacks, supernatural threats and love triangles aplenty. And if that still isn’t quite enough, there are also spin-off shows The Originals and Legacies to hunt down, too. (Eight series) 

Marie Antoinette

Ravishingly modern take on the doomed Queen of France

Year: 2022

Certificate: 12

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

There’s no sugar-coating in this eight-part biographical drama about the Queen of France. As an immature 14-year-old who stamps her feet, Austrian Archduchess Maria Antonia (a riveting performance from German actress Emilia Schule) is married to the future King (Louis Cunningham) and expected to quickly produce an heir – even though she has no idea what that involves.

It’s created by Deborah Davis, the BAFTA-winning writer of The Favourite, but it’s not quite as strange and surreal as that black comedy movie set in the court of our own Queen Anne. 

It looks absolutely ravishing and boasts a spiky modern soundtrack, but the emphasis is on the cruelty of a woman trapped by duty, and the boorishness of the royal classes – with James Purefoy both regal and exasperated as King Louis XV and British newcomer Louis Cunningham as the Dauphin, Marie’s naïve and detached new husband. (One series).

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