Analysis: Sex scenes on TV are having a steamy moment


A version of this story appeared in Pop Life Chronicles, CNN’s weekly entertainment newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.


Ahhh, springtime.

According to the 19th-century British poet Alfred Tennyson, it’s the season when “a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Or as one of Tennyson’s revered predecessors in the field, Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote “spring arose on the garden fair… like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere.”

Others describe it perhaps a little less poetically as the time of the year when “the sap is rising” and some such.

Well, I don’t have much to say about love, but let’s talk lust.

Simulated, that is.

From left: Jonathan Sadowski, Chloe Bailey and Demetrius Flenory Jr.

Fans of Chloe Bailey recently got to see a whole new side of her.

The actress and singer, who came to fame as part of a musical duo with her sister, Halle Bailey, has a role in the new Amazon Prime series “Swarm.” Early in the first episode, Bailey, 24, has quite the sex scene with co-star Damson Idris.

“As open and liberal as I am about my body, I was very scared because I haven’t had that many partners,” Bailey told Deadline of the scene. “I’m not like that — like that sexual and open.”

“Damson made it really comfortable,” she continued, adding that, “there were limited people on set; it was a closed set.”

Across movies and TV, today’s sex scenes are typically carefully choreographed on “closed sets” (a term which means the number of crew members present is kept to a minimum) and have given rise to the role of intimacy coordinators, who work to ensure the actors involved are informed and comfortable. This practice has become especially important after the #MeToo movement brought widespread attention to how performers have felt taken advantage of in front of the camera (or behind it) by those in power.

Yet as technical — and in some cases, unsexy — as filming sex scenes can be, they still garner a ton of attention. And though in many cases much of this attention is laced with sexism and misogyny, it’s not just directed at women. Both Jonathan Sadowski of Netflix’s “Sex/Life” and Demetrius Flenory Jr. of Starz’s “BMF” recently stirred buzz with full frontal scenes on their respective shows.

Not everyone is down for it, however.

“You” star Penn Badgley shared on a February episode of his podcast “Podcrushed” that he had spoken to the Netflix show’s creator, Sera Gamble, about opting out of on-camera intimacy. “Fidelity in every relationship, including my marriage, is important to me,” he said. “It’s got to the point where I don’t want to do (sex scenes).”

We see you sticking to your principles, Penn!

Blac Chyna attends the 2023 NAACP Image Awards on February 25 in Pasadena, California.

Blac Chyna is undergoing a make-under.

The reality star and entrepreneur has been documenting some changes she’s undergoing on her Instagram account. She has opted to have her breast and butt implants removed and fillers in her face dissolved.

“Back to the baseline. I’m tired of the look and it’s just not flattering,” she told her more than 17 million followers. “It’s not what I look like. It like totally changed my face and I’m just ready to get back to Angela.”

The process is stirring some pretty interesting conversations about what women do to look and feel more attractive. I, for one, applaud Chyna for doing what she feels is best for her.

Lana Del Rey performs at Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre on October 11, 2019 in San Diego, California.

How is Lana Del Rey already releasing her ninth album?

The newly-released “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” features 16 tracks of Del Rey at her finest, joined by collaborators including the Grammy-winning artist Jon Batiste, Father John Misty and Jack Antonoff, among others.

In a conversation with fellow artist Billie Eilish for Interview magazine, Del Rey said of the project, “It’s all about the process, not so much the results. Now, I feel good about it.”

Her fans likely will too.

From left: Mae Whitman and Carlos Valdes in a scene from

What do you get when you mix the screenwriter of “Tick, Tick… Boom!” with the director of “Hamilton” and the songwriters of “The Book of Mormon”?

That would be “Up Here,” a new musical comedy series set in 1990s New York City.

Speaking for myself, I adore folks bursting into song — and when you add in the love story between the show’s leads Lindsay and Miguel (played by Mae Whitman and Carlos Valdes), you had me at the first note.

It’s streaming on Hulu now.

Contestants date — unseen — in a scene from

Back to the pods we go.

It’s time for a fourth season of the Netflix hit “Love Is Blind,” and we are once again being asked to believe true love can blossom among couples who don’t know what the other looks like. Well, to come full circle, at least it’s springtime?! Though like most modern dating shows, the end result is usually more thorns than rose petals. (Wait, forget the roses — that’s another dating franchise.)

Let’s count it all worth it, however, for all the drama along the way.

“Love Is Blind” Season 4 is streaming now on Netflix.


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