The further away we get from the Golden Age of Television, the more butts, blood and four-letter words are taking over the airwaves. This has always been the case with premium cable networks like HBO, but some regular cable networks have been loosening the reins for years now, and we’re seemingly not far away from no holds barred television all over the dial. Except for CBS, probably.
While some people obviously have severe problems with nudity and violence on television, I revel in that kind of stuff. But it was still no easy task to put together the 10 most explicit TV series of 2014, because some of these shows’ filters seem to either be absent or clogged with hair and viscera. What a year, though. Enjoy!
Game of ThronesMost Notorious For: Sex and violence
The King of Pirated TV is also in the royal family of Stuff That Kids Shouldn’t Watch. The violence isn’t always so graphic, especially during traditional sword fights, but when it goes there, it’s an eye-gougingly disgusting affair. As well, it seems like every other conversation held indoors is happening in front of female prostitutes putting an orgy together. Not to mention Cersei’s on again-on again love affair with Jamie, her brother, which is the center of an extremely uncomfortable confession. Did we mention patricide and purple corpse-faces?
BansheeMost Notorious For: Over-the-top violence and uncomfortable sex
Cinemax is a channel mostly known for its late-night softcore flicks, but the network is now pushing forward with original programming, and Banshee is the hardcore ringleader of the bunch. Banshee is executive produced by Alan Ball, and it definitely shows in the incest-lite business happening between crime boss Kai Proctor and his promiscuous Amish niece Rebecca, whose lovers inevitably find themselves in fatal harm’s way. And then there’s the 1980s action movie level of heightened gunplay going on all the time.
VeepMost Notorious For: Insanely vulgar language
There isn’t a curse word known to man that someone on Veep hasn’t turned into a knee-slappingly hilarious insult, or even just a slice of life observation, such as Julia Louis-Dreyfuss’ Selina Kyle pondering, “Hey, I’m the President. I can fuck anybody I want now, right?” Add in a slew of bad taste political jabs – “Someone has just flown two planes into my career.” – and you quickly learn that it doesn’t take bare skin and decapitations to jump the line into explicitness. Although I’m sure everyone is thinking about murdering Jonah in the most horrific ways imaginable. Maybe in Season 4…
HannibalMost Notorious For: Violence and gore
Get this: a thriller about a currently closeted cannibalistic serial killer set in a world of other dangerous murderers is one of the most explicit series on TV. Who’d have thought? What IS surprising, however, is that Hannibal gets away with its blood lust and mayhem on NBC, a network known more for cancelling awful comedies. The entire face-contorting Mason Verger storyline alone was enough for this show to make the list, but it was hardly the only troublesome thing happening. And it’s only going to get more extreme next year. Go Bryan Fuller!
True BloodMost Notorious For: Everything imaginable
True Blood has gotten increasingly ridiculous over its lifespan (or is it unlifespan?), and Season 7 saw no reason to make any exceptions. Even if all that happened this season were the deaths, it would still be one of the most disgusting series in 2014. Disregarding characters that died in relatively normal ways, this season showed us someone getting their stomach ripped out, someone getting their jaw ripped off of their face, a head-bashing, and TWO exploding vamps. The one in the finale was more important, but the earlier incident, in which Arlene has one exploding into goop right between her legs, was one of the nastiest visuals on TV this year.
Sons of AnarchyMost Notorious For: Vulgar language, sex and violence
For its seventh and final season, Sons of Anarchy pulled out all the stops – and TWO eyeballs – in concluding the violence-ridden existence of Jax Teller and SAMCRO. This season featured a second “carving fork stabbing in the skull,” as well as a slew of other horrifying murders. But what got the show in more trouble this year than anything else? A cold open montage of just about every main character in the show having sex, some more pleasurably than others. What do you think bothered the PTC more: Charlie Hunnam’s buttocks or Tig getting it on with the transgender badass Venus?
GirlsMost Notorious For: Sex and vulgar language
2014 kicked off not only with Season 3 of Girls, but with TheWrap’s Tim Molloy getting slaughtered by creator Lena Dunham and executive producer Judd Apatow (and the rest of the Internet) for blatantly asking Dunham why she was naked all the time in her own show. Regardless of how all that turned out, it’s undeniable that Dunham’s character Hannah is naked a lot, both for sexual indulgency and also just hanging out around the house. Add that to some foul-mouthed arguments and the other characters’ sex lives and you have yet another HBO series that could never find a home on network TV without a heavy editing hand.
American Horror StoryMost Notorious For: Weird sex, violence, racism and gore
It was a gimme that this series would be on this list, as Ryan Murphy is the Crown Prince of making things unnecessarily disgusting. Freak Show seemed like it would focus most of its exploitation on the freaks themselves, such as Legless Suzy or the conjoined twins. But no, we had a jaw-less murderer clown wreaking havoc, the son of a too-loving mother bathing in blood, a lobster-handed dude plowing an extremely obese woman and obsessing about her bosom, the smallest woman in the world dead in a jar, and more than one reference to a monstrous penis. Then there’s the three-tittied Desiree and her giant clitoris. And who could forget the ending of Coven, in which Kathy Bates’ slave-murdering origin is played out?
The LeftoversMost Notorious For: Violence, sex, gore and inducing major depression
In adapting the quasi-post-apocalyptic novel The Leftovers, author Tom Perrotta and Damon Lindelof created one of the darkest and most damning series on TV. A show that takes place after 2% of the world disappears simultaneously, The Leftovers plays fast and loose with extreme forms of grief, maniacal anger, mental disorders, cold-blooded murder, cold-blooded suicide, and much more. Every downtrodden event is amped up for pure misery, even without mass amounts of blood and nudity. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, everything involving the Loved Ones line of dead people replica dolls is far more horrifying than murder, especially in the finale.
The Walking DeadMost Notorious For: Violence and gore
It’s easier to think about extremely disgusting sequences on The Walking Dead than it is to remember scenes where nothing awful is happening. Though there was a little bit of sex this year, the ratings juggernaut is more in tune with gorily mowing down zombies with a fire hose, or putting Carl in danger of getting raped, or seeing cannibals do their cannibal thing, or just straight up killing main characters off. And what if they’re not necessarily a main character, but a side child character? Yeah, they also do horrific things and then get killed for them. No one is safe here, especially not the viewers.