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Does ‘Versailles’ Have the Most Sex on Television?

We did math to find out

Capa Drama/Incendo Productions
Capa Drama/Incendo Productions

I’d only heard a few things before watching the first episode of Versailles. First, it’s about Louis XIV. Second, it originally aired on the BBC Two in June, and third, the show is so raunchy it shook the United Kingdom to its very core.

“Steamy New Period Drama!” panted The Telegraph. The Mirror called it “porn” and a “raunchy bonkbuster.” (I am so mad I didn’t coin that term.) The Daily Mail looked up horny in the thesaurus and then made a headline out of all of the options: “The palace of of lust: How a racy BBC drama about Versailles portrays a very libidinous Sun King,” and then pronounced the show “the filthiest TV ever.”

That’s some promise. The filthiest. Could Versailles really be the perviest of all shows? Having watched the first episode on Friday night, I can say that yes, this show is pretty horny. But the horniest? There were a number of sex scenes, but this is America; our prestige television shows are often indistinguishable from a better-than-average of episode of Red Shoe Diaries. We don’t just toss around “filthiest TV ever” lightly. The competition is stiff.

Since we cannot simply trust our pelvises or inability to watch a show with our parents or siblings to determine if it is the horniest, we must trust science and math and reason. And so, to determine if the premiere episode of Versailles, is, in fact, the horniest episode of television on air, and also to honor The Ringer’s long tradition of stats-driven analysis, I have created the HUMPSS scale to decide.

What is HUMPSS?
H(umans) U(ndressed) M(aking) P(erfect) S(ex) S(cenes) is a scale meant to determine how horny an episode is. The math behind it is very simple and made up. Here is how it works:

+100 points for every sex act performed on screen.
+10–20 for any complex moves, extraordinary locations, or extraordinarily hot people.
-20 for every instance where there is female nudity, but not male.
+40 for male nudity.
-20 if the sex is crucial for plot (real horniness means humping for humping’s sake, against all rational narrative).
+60 for every instance of sex that is completely nonsensical.

How are you choosing episodes?
I’m only using current shows — True Blood’s sex would win all of this in an instant, and then we wouldn’t have a nice fake-statistics post to read.

Is this really journalism?
I do not think this article is for you.

Now enough with teasing, and onto the HUMPSS!

‘Versailles,’ Season 1, Episode 1

All right, Versailles, let’s see if you’ve earned that “filthiest TV ever” title:

  • Out of the starting gate, King Louis the Libidinous has a dream about his dead mother, which then morphs into a sex dream featuring sex (+100) with a naked woman (-20, she was fully nude, he was mostly clothed), who randomly squeezed a fresh orange onto his chest (+20, odd and sticky). Why a sex dream during a dead-mother dream? Not explained (yet) (+60).
  • That scene quickly gave way into another oral sex scene (+100) that was not explained in any way (+60).
  • And another instance of missionary position (+100) featuring standard full female nudity and no male nudity (-20).

Number of HUMPSS: 400

‘The Americans,’ Season 2, Episode 1

Just about every prepregnant–Keri Russell episode could be a contender. (Especially any involving Clark and Martha — wouldn’t have guessed those two were such freaks based on Clark’s hairpiece!) But in this particular episode, there is:

  • A threesome (+100, +10 for complexity of multiple-partner sex, and +40 because we see a man’s tush) all in the name of spying for Mother Russia (+60, they didn’t really need to have a threesome to intimidate this particular target; violence works too).
  • Also, Philip and Elizabeth are caught 69ing by their teenage daughter, Paige (+100 for act, +20 for complexity of position, +40 for that male nudity, and an additional +15 because it was bare Rhys booty, but a deduction of 20 because the sex became a crucial plot point).

Number of HUMPSS: 365

‘Orange Is the New Black,’ Season 1, Episode 1

There are two certainties within the OINTB universe: Piper is insufferable, and the best use of downtime is getting it on, apparently. In the first episode, which establishes both of these truths, there are:

  • A total of five sexual encounters (+500).
  • Extra points for two showers and two bathtubs (+20).
  • And one of those showers was a communal prison shower (+20 for dedication).

Number of HUMPSS: 540

‘Scandal,’ Season 5, Episode 1

This episode marked the first time Olivia and Fitz were a happy couple, which of course meant Shonda Softcore, set to a smooth soul tune. Over the one-minute lovers-in-love montage, there were:

  • Two (PG-13) sex acts (+200), though nobody was really naked, and nobody was adventurous.
  • An additional +20 because Olivia was banging in the White House.

Number of HUMPSS: 220

‘How to Get Away With Murder,’ Season 2, Episode 3

An official bid to rename this show How to Get Away With Being Really Horny on Network TV. In this episode there were:

  • Three different sex acts (+300).
  • A reference to bottoming (+20 for rarity).
  • Bare abs (+10 for abs).

Number of HUMPSS: 330

‘Masters of Sex,’ Season 1, Episode 1

Four seasons later, and the sex on this show is far from shocking. But the first episode featured an unprecedented amount of doin’ it. There were:

  • Six different instances of sexual activity (+600).
  • Four of them were in the name of science, so they were necessary to plot (-80).
  • But two of them were masturbation montages (+15 for self-care).
  • Bonus points for the fact that sex was conducted in a medical viewing room (EKG machine — kinky, +20).
  • Multiple instances of female nudity without male nudity (-60).

Number of HUMPSS: 480

‘Jessica Jones,’ Season 1, Episode 3

Jessica Jones is a fairly dark show, but in darkness there is always light. In this case, two incredibly athletic, but chaste sex scenes:

  • +100 for every bed-breaking sex scene (+200).
  • A deduction of 10 because I didn’t see Luke Cage’s butt.
  • Twenty points awarded for each superhero involved (+40).

Number of HUMPSS: 230

‘Game of Thrones,’ Season 1, Episode 7

It was incredibly hard to choose just one horniest episode of GoT, as the show is notoriously smutty. But this episode was one of those that made people shake their fists and ask, “What the actual fuck, nobody needed to have sex in this scene!” For some “reason” a fully clothed male character gave a long, totally unrelated monologue while two fully naked prostitutes went down on one another. The breakdown:

  • +300 points for aggressive sexual activity.
  • A 20-point deduction for each naked woman shown while Littlefinger strutted around in his fancy silk robe (-40).
  • +180, or a triple score +60 because of how utterly unnecessary this particular sex scene was.
  • And an extra +20, because one prostitute was able to carry on an entire, meaningful conversation whilst engaging in sexual activity. That’s just good cardiovascular health.

Number of HUMPSS: 460

‘Outlander,’ Season 1, Episode 7

Whooo boy. The famed “Wedding Episode” gets:

  • +600 for all the acts of marital lovin’.
  • +100 for two instances of male nudity (+20 because of Jamie’s glorious striptease).
  • +20 because it was truly a sex-positive, female-positive, time-travel-positive sexual experience.

Number of HUMPSS: 740

‘House of Cards,’ Season 2, Episode 11

“The MeechemThreesome,” as it is known to me, got way more attention than it deserved, but here we go:

  • +100 for a threesome
  • +20 because it was the two men and a woman, and one of those men was the president — extraordinary circumstances.

Number of HUMPSS: 120

Winner: Sorry, King Louis, Outlander is the horniest show on television. Congratulations to all the moms in the land.