HBO, known in the 1990s for its risqué content, has removed erotic-themed shows from its lineup.
In a decision earlier this summer, the pay-per-view network pulled erotic movies and TV shows — like “Cathouse,” “Taxicab Confessions” and “Real Sex” — from its channel and streaming services, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The explicit programs were pulled not long after the premium cable channel became part of AT&T in June after the telecommunications company completed its acquisition of Time Warner, Inc.
HBO, however, had been planning to walk away from adult content for some time.
“Over the past several years HBO has been winding down its late-night adult fare,” a representative for the channel 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.”
This is certainly a noteworthy shift for HBO, given its sister channel, Cinemax, produced so much soft-core pornography, the outlet was jokingly referred to as “Skinemax.”
Offering such content on a cable channel, though, is now somewhat dated, according to Jeffrey Jones, director of the Peabody Center at the University of Georgia, given pornography and other explicit entertainment is now readily — and freely — available elsewhere.
“It really is a vestige of a previous era,” Jones explained. “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.”
Sheila Nevins, who led HBO’s documentary division for 38 years, retired in April. Jones believes her departure may have triggered the decision to finally abandon the X-rated programming.
“With her gone, I can see that change,” he said. “She very much saw sex as a central part of human beings and therefore documentaries should treat it with respect. She carved out a space for this type of programming.”
It should be noted, of course, that popular shows like “Game of Thrones,” which features extensive sexuality and nudity, will continue. But HBO will not be producing shows specifically centered on graphic nudity any longer.