HBO is officially no longer making adult content


HBO has long had a reputation for making prestigious shows like The SopranosThe Wire and Game of Thrones, the kinds of shows that win awards and get taught at universities. But it wasn’t too long ago that the network was also known for its offering of soft-core erotic movies and sexually charged TV shows like Taxicab ConfessionsReal Sex and Cathouse. True, the network hasn’t made new episodes of these shows in some years, but it still ran them late at night, and HBO Go users could check them out under the “Late-Night” tab.

Or at least, they could until earlier this summer, when HBO quietly chucked all that content away. Part of that might have to do with the network getting purchased by AT&T, which is apparently operated by several skyscrapers full of prudes. But according to a network representative who talked to the Los Angeles Times, that stuff was on the way out anyway. “Over the past several years HBO has been winding down its late-night adult fare,” the rep said. “While we’re greatly ramping up our other original program offerings, there hasn’t been a strong demand for this kind of adult programming, perhaps because it’s easily available elsewhere.”

In other words, the internet is for porn. How’s HBO gonna compete with that?

According to Jeffrey Jones, coauthor of The Essential HBO Reader, HBO’s racier content is a product of a different time. “Especially the more soft-core stuff that gave HBO its mantle of ‘It’s not TV, it’s HBO.’ You weren’t finding those shows unless you subscribed to the Playboy Channel, and most people did not want their wives to know that they watched that stuff.”

But even HBO’s softcore material was more high-minded than the smut over on, say, Cinemax. Many of the series in this category were developed by Sheila Nevins, who “very much saw sex as a central part of human beings and therefore documentaries should treat it with respect.” Taxicab Confessions even won an Emmy for Outstanding Informational Series or Special in 1995, and was nominated twice thereafter in the reality TV category.

Of course, none of this means HBO is going to stop featuring nudity — any longtime Game of Thrones viewer knows that’s not going to happen — it’s just not going to make shows where nudity is the point.

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