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The Knick Sets a New Time Record for Cable-TV Nudity. Where Do Other Shows Fall?

Photo: Netflix, NBC, Showtime and HBO

This weekend brings the premieres of two new high-profile cable shows: The Knick, on Cinemax, and Outlander, on Starz. Both shows have a lot going for them — Steven Soderbergh directed the former; the latter is based on a series of best-selling books — but only The Knick can claim the title of Fastest Nudity in Cable History. The show opens with a shot of a woman’s naked body; before any lines have been uttered or any aspect of the show’s 1900 setting firmly established, you can see bare breasts and a mons pubis. Congratulations, The Knick!

Given the show’s insta-nudity, this seemed like a good time to revisit the countdown to nudity we first created in 2011. This revised list contains the older shows from that list as well as the shows that have premiered since then.

To be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with nakedness on TV. It has no objective value; a bare ass doesn’t make a show good or bad. Nudity, on television as in life, serves all kinds of different purposes: Sometimes it’s an integral part of a story line, sometimes it’s incredibly titillating, and sometimes it’s just casual objectification, usually of women. Some shows jump right in, others get there eventually, and some take their time.

“Nudity” for these purposes does not include side-boob or side-butt, though trust, these shows have plenty of both. Unlike the previous installment, this list also includes Netflix series. We’re only including dramas — though if we’d included comedies, Orange Is the New Black would be right there at the top, with bare breasts 14 seconds in — and we’re only including their pilots.

0:15: The Knick, full-frontal female nudity. It starts blurry at about 10 seconds in, though. (Cinemax)
0:38: True Detective, bare breast and nipple in opening credits. (HBO)
0:41: Hemlock Grove, bare breasts in a heterosexual sex scene. (Netflix)
0:59: Da Vinci’s Demons, a man’s bare ass as he hands-free urinates into a chamberpot. P.S. it’s Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey. (Starz)
1:05: Banshee, bare breasts in a sex scene. (Cinemax)
3:00: Ray Donovan, bare breasts on a woman who has fatally overdosed. (Showtime)
3:10: Californication, topless woman in bed, smoking a cigarette. (Showtime)
4:31: Crash, naked man and woman having sex. (Starz)
4:41: The Borgias, naked man and woman having sex. (Showtime)
5:38: Rome, naked man’s ass as he’s brought before Caesar’s soldiers. (HBO)
5:45: The Tudors, topless woman during foreplay/sex. (Showtime)
6:04: Spartacus: Blood and Sand, naked man and woman having sex. (Starz)
6:38: Six Feet Under, pantsless man, mid-sex. (HBO)
7:01: Camelot, naked woman making out with a shirtless man on a blanket. (Starz)
8:51: Treme, naked man’s ass as he gets out of bed in the morning. (HBO)
9:28: Homeland, topless woman, mid-sex. (Showtime)
10:12: The L Word, two naked women skinny-dipping in a swimming pool. (Showtime)
11:39: Big Love, naked man’s ass. (Bill Paxton’s)
11:53: Queer As Folk, two naked men having sex. (Showtime)
12:40: True Blood, topless woman, mid-oral sex. (HBO)
12:57: Tell Me You Love Me, fully naked woman and man. (HBO)
15:31: Oz, naked man’s ass getting tattooed. (HBO)
16:51: Penny Dreadful, bare breasts on a naked corpse in some kind of demon lair. (Showtime)
18:00: Shameless, naked man’s ass mid-sex; seconds later, exposed breast. (Showtime)
18:21: Power, topless woman in a heterosexual sex scene. (Starz)
21:51: American Horror Story: Murder House, McDermbutt. (FX)
22:20: House of Cards, postcoital bare breasts. (Netflix)
24:32: Black Sails, full-frontal female nudity, including a “Black Beard” merkin. (Starz)
24:50: Masters of Sex, bare breasts in a heterosexual sex scene. (Showtime)
27:54: Boardwalk Empire, naked female corpse, post-autopsy. (HBO)
28:36: Dexter, nipple slip in a porn video. (Showtime)
29:05: Outlander, she-butt as a couple undresses for a sex scene. (Starz)
30:53: Game of Thrones, naked woman mid-oral sex. (HBO)
31:53: Orphan Black, female butt in a hetero sex scene. (BBC America)
33:22: The Sopranos, topless woman pole dancing at a club. (HBO)
48:41: Boss, Exposed breast, mid-stairwell sex. (Starz)
52:00: The Wire, dancer stripping onstage at a club. (HBO)
60:00: Deadwood, fully naked woman climbing into bed, no sex. (HBO)

The Knick Sets a New Time Record for TV Nudity