Television has evolved from its simplistic, happy-go-lucky form. Now, instead of The Andy Griffith Show, we have things like Game of Thrones and Mad Men to push the envelope with more adult themes and, of course, sex. But, not all sex scenes are made equal, and while some scenes are written into a show to give it a little spice, other scenes are there to bring the awkward side of relations directly into our living rooms. So without further ado, here are some of the most awkward on-screen love scenes ever broadcast on television.
“Bummer/Blueberries” – Louie
The Louie series is filled with awkward moments, but the show rarely delves into things of a sexual nature. One of the exceptions to that is a sex scene between Louie and a nameless mother at his daughter’s school. The encounter is made no less awkward by the fact that in the first half of the episode, Louie watches a homeless man get decapitated by a garbage truck. In the second segment, he is propositioned by the aforementioned mom at his daughter’s school for no-strings attached “intercourse.” After changing into a shapeless, unflattering nightgown and rubbing lotion on her legs, she sends Louie on a freaky scavenger hunt for necessary items (including blueberries) before they get down to it. The scene ends with her sobbing on the bed and eating those blueberries.
“The Mango” – Seinfeld
This episode opens with George expressing his worry to Jerry that his new girlfriend has been “faking it.” When Elaine joins them, Jerry brags that Elaine never had to fake it with him—to which she responds that she did. Jerry begs her for 30 minutes to prove himself, which she declines because it will “ruin the friendship.” When Jerry continues moping, she then changes her mind for the sake of saving their friendship. It concludes with a shot of Jerry and Elaine lying in bed, with Elaine reading a magazine and Jerry looking crushed. He of course blames George for psyching him out.
“Noretta” – How I Met Your Mother
When Barney’s (Neil Patrick Harris) brother (Wayne Brady) comes for a visit, he points out the many similarities between Barney’s new girlfriend Nora (Nazanin Boniadi) and their mother (Frances Conroy), such as a similar hugging style and how they both call Barney “my sweet boy.” The thought gets into Barney’s head, too, and before long he keeps seeing his mother when he looks at Nora. After a little split-screen trickery in which Nora and Mom sing a duet of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, Nora initiates sex with Barney on the couch. But he, and the audience, see Mom lying on top of him.
“The Infestation Hypothesis” – Big Bang Theory
Leonard and his girlfriend are attempting a long-distance relationship after she moves back to India. They have a date for “dinfast” (as Sheldon calls it), and they attempt cyber sex. After an awkward and obviously scripted attempt at dirty talk, Priya tells him to let her guide him, only to have the screen freeze as she is taking off her shirt. Leonard then decides it’s a good time to ask about her parents, while Sheldon suggests from the other room that he “try resetting the TCP/IP stack.” He later decides to attempt it again (after apparently Googling how to talk dirty), oblivious to her warnings, and ends up on the receiving end of disapproving looks from her parents—who were apparently in the room and heard every word he said.
Cersei and Jaime, every time – Game Of Thrones
Of course, every instance of intimacy between twin sister and brother Cersei and Jaime Lannister makes all of us a little uncomfortable—for obvious reasons. In this particular instance, the awkwardness is amplified when they are discovered in an unused part of the castle at Winterfell by ten-year-old Bran. Bran’s engaging in his favorite pastime of climbing the walls when he hears them. Naturally, when Jaime spots him peering in the window, he seeks to rectify the situation by pushing the boy and watching him fall to his (almost) death—before which he laments, “the things I do for love.” Nothing spices things up like attempted murder.
“The One Where Joey Moves Out” – Friends
What’s worse than interrupting one’s step-grandmother getting busy? Well, lots of things, but definitely being in the same room as their parents while they’re getting busy. Early on in Friends, Monica (Courteney Cox) started dating her father’s friend, Dr. Richard Burke (Tom Selleck). In this Season 2 episode, they both attend the birthday party of Monica’s father/Richard’s friend, where everybody is gossiping about Richard having a new girlfriend half his age. Richard and Monica convene in the bathroom to discuss whether or not they should admit that she’s the woman in question. He leaves, but she stays back for a minute … only to be forced to hide in the bathtub when her parents (Elliott Gould, Christina Pickles) also seek privacy in the bathroom. And so Monica must stay quiet and still as she listens to her parents do what mommies and daddies do.
Vagina Panic” – Girls
While we commend Lena Dunham for attempting to portray sex realistically in Girls, this often means some uncomfortable scenes for the characters and audience alike. And there are certainly many sex scenes on the show that hit the cringe-worthy mark. But a sex scene between Marnie and Charlie in “Vagina Panic” takes the cake. It’s Marnie’s rudeness and self-loathing, and Charlie’s awkward request that make this scene so awkward.
“Will Gets A Girlfriend” – The Inbetweeners
Nothing is more awkward than losing your virginity, unless of course you almost-but-not-really have sex and it’s on television. This is exactly what happens in E4’s The Inbetweeners, with Will almost having sex with Charlotte. His methodology is completely strange and awkward to watch, and when he asks if he “can count that one” afterward makes for hilarious television.
“Virgins” – New Girl
It’s probably not surprising that Schmidt from New Girl has made this list. In fact, he has so many strange moments throughout the series that it’s tough to actually pick just one. But when one of Schmidt’s escapades from college gets a little messy and out of hand, his good ol’ buddy Nick is there to make things even more awkward. And all the while, Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love To You” plays in the background.
“At the Codfish Ball” – Mad Men
Walking in on a loved one doing the deed is certainly near the top of many people’s “most awkward moments in life” list. It’s highly relatable and deeply uncomfortable, when the same thing occurs on TV. On Mad Men, it happens to young Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka). A couple times, actually. In one episode, she catches her dad doing the dirty with Sylvia (Linda Cardellini) the next-door neighbor. Another time, her dad’s friend and business associate Roger Sterling (John Slattery) brings her as his “date” in a cute, grandfatherly way to a charity dinner. He disappears, Sally goes looking for him and finds him in an unused room getting some special attention from Marie (Julia Ormond), the married mother of her step-grandmother.
“I’ll Fly Away” – Homeland
In Homeland’s second season, in the episode titled ‘I’ll Fly Away,’ Carrie takes Brody to a motel room and has extremely loud sex with him, even though she is aware that the room is bugged and her co-workers are listening in. Saul, Quinn, and many other CIA members are forced to sit through the romp, awkwardly listening to the two doing the deed.
Episode 1 – Fleabag
Phoebe Waller-Bridge stars in Fleabag, a British series (available in the U.S. on Amazon) she adapted from her one-woman play about a woman trying to keep her life in London together despite some tragedies and ill-fated sexual escapades. One of them comes right at the beginning of Episode 1, setting the tone for the entire series. Fleabag (yep, that’s her name) breaks the fourth wall to narrate the sex act as it happens, and she does so in a detached, been there-done-that fashion, even when the guy she’s with (Ben Aldridge) starts to take liberties with the placement of his equipment. The audience is just as stunned as Fleabag. It’s even more awkward when the action cuts to the morning after, and the guy is caught lovingly watching Fleabag sleep. When she wakes up, he thanks her, and then tenderly strokes her face.
“The Return” – Girls
An entire article about awkward love scenes could be filled from just Girls. That’s kind of the HBO series’ whole deal–how all of life, even sex (heck, especially sex) can be uncomfortable and weird. Lena Dunham has tried to present sex as realistically as possible, for better or worse, warts and all. A scene of this nature that stands out is one between the 50-something parents of main character Hannah Horvath. An episode of shower-time fun for Tad (Peter Scolari) and Loreen (Becky Ann Baker) goes awry, and poor Tad slips, falls, and hurts himself. And then Hannah (Dunham) has to help her mother move her naked dad.
“The Only Thing That Helps” – You’re the Worst
FX’s acerbic relationship comedy is about sometimes awful people who nevertheless try to have fulfilling romantic relationships with one another. Including Lindsay (Kether Donohue), who, considering ending her marriage to her nerdy husband Paul (Allan McLeod), tries to make it work any way she can. This includes having an “open marriage” and making her husband sit in the room during her extramarital affairs in a misguided attempt to bring them closer together. Paul is reluctant (“I don’t even like watching other men put gas in the car”) but consents, and it’s truly agonizing to watch Paul watch Lindsay have sex with some guy named Raul (Nicholas Alexander).
“Gimme an O!” – Felicity
This college-set series was about a bunch of young adults trying their hardest to grow up and often failing. Like in this Season 1 episode, Felicity (Keri Russell) returns to school after winter break and tells her sort-of-boyfriend Noel (Scott Foley) that she thinks they should have sex for the first time (which would also be her first time ever). Leading up to the big night, Felicity gets very type A, responsible, and practical about the whole thing, which includes buying books about sex and determining the right form of birth control. But when the sex actually happens, it doesn’t quite happen. The couple’s first time ends in a blaze of non-glory when Noel knocks over a candle and starts a fire, which is to say nothing of the guys who walk in on them.