HBO, Showtime relying on sex to edge basic cable

TV Arts

from variety

HBO, Showtime prepare sexy shows
'Californication,' 'Tell Me' to bow in August & September

Basic-cable shows like FX's "Dirt" and TNT's upcoming "Saving Grace"
continue to push the line on edgy fare. But the pay nets have an

HBO and Showtime are prepping what could be the two most sexually
explicit primetime shows in their recent history, debuting them
(coincidentally?) within a month of each other.

In August, Showtime will bow "Californication," a halfhour comedy in
which David Duchovny plays a hard-drinking writer who soothes his
battered ego with one-night stands.

Even the teaser spots are salacious. Net, which is giving it the
coveted slot behind "Weeds," has a trailer in which Duchovny's
pre-adolescent daughter, stumbling upon one of his conquests, muses,
"She doesn't have hair on her vagina; do you think she's OK?"

HBO's drama "Tell Me You Love Me," which bows in September and
chronicles the love and sex lives of three couples, also gets in your
face -- literally. Sources say there are scenes that show male and
female genitals at decidedly, uh, familiar angles. While the series
may get toned down significantly before its September debut -- it was
named "Sexlife" at one point -- it certainly won't win points from the
Family Research Council.

Both series rep shifts of a sort. HBO and Showtime, for all their
reputations as envelope-pushers, have been more likely to take on
taboos like drugs or violence --think Nancy Botwin of "Weeds" or Tony
Soprano choking a hitman on a college tour.

Even Samantha's antics on "Sex and the City" were usually tempered
with humor, while the sex scenes on "The L Word" are often shot from a

"Tell Me You Love Me" exec producer Gavin Polone says the goal is to
have the series depict sex as authentically as TV does other taboos.

"When you see violence on a show like 'The Sopranos,' it seems very
realistic. But usually when you see sex in the movies or on television
it looks phony," he says. "What we want to do is show sex the way
people really experience it."

Part of the motivation for the pay nets in airing these scenes is that
the rest of cable can, and does, air edgier fare. But with the
broadcast nets now more careful to avoid FCC fines, pay nets may also
see an opportunity to woo subscribers.

"There's not a sex scene on this show that isn't an integral part of
the story being told," one "Tell Me" actor says in a promo.

Maybe not. But conveniently, there also isn't a sex scene on TV that
isn't an integral part of getting someone to tune in.
I love sex and have been waiting for TV like this my entire life, ever since 
wanting to see Juliet Mills naked on Nanny and the Professor (in tasteful 
scenes, integral to the plot, naturally).  Obviously, I'm not the only 
American who will be more likely to tune in for this kind of stuff, so what 
in the hell took them so long?

Sex also happens to be the best sales tool we have for pushing our atheist, 
liberal agenda.  The fundies don't stand a chance!  Muhuhahahahaha!!!
[email protected] (Victor Velazquez)
I love sex and have been waiting for TV like this my entire life. Sex
also happens to be the best sales tool we have for pushing our atheist,
liberal agenda.
You HAVE seen Avanti!, haven't you?
Oh hell yeah!

Now, how did I know you were gonna chime in with that one? ;-)
So you noticed Juliet Mills' shoes?