Tell Me You Love Me TV Poster Image

Tell Me You Love Me

(i)

 

Sex-focused show is shockingly real. Adults only.
  • Network: HBO
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters' motivations are complex -- and refreshingly real. Relationships aren't easy, and many characters struggle with them.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

Almost constant, and extremely graphic for television -- pay cable or otherwise. Very little is left to the imagination: Viewers will see buttocks, breasts, testicles -- and even penises and vaginas. Characters are shown having sex and masturbating.

Language

The word "f--k" (unbleeped) is used often as both a verb and an expletive.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters are occasionally shown drinking in social settings.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this envelope-pushing HBO drama contains graphic sexuality and nudity (including images of both male and female genitals, masturbation scenes, and much more) that may be too shocking for the average adult viewer -- which makes it an absolute no-no for kids. Since sex is an integral part of the plot, characters are shown talking about it -- or engaging in it -- in every episode. They also swear and do some social drinking, but you'll barely notice amid all of the naked bodies.

What's the story?

Using a handheld camera to capture the action with unflinching honesty, TELL ME YOU LOVE ME chronicles the sex lives of three couples at different points of the relationship spectrum. Jamie (Michelle Borth) and her fiancé, Hugo (Luke Farrell Kirby), have recently announced their engagement, but they don't live together yet; Carolyn (Sonya Walger) and Palek (Adam Scott) are married and childless, but they've been trying to conceive for a year; and Katie (Ally Walker) and Dave (Tim DeKay) have two children and a seemingly happy relationship, but they haven't had sex in ages. The show also offers a peek at the private life of the sex therapist (Jane Alexander) that the main characters have begun seeing for various reasons -- an older woman in her 60s who seems to have the healthiest relationship of the bunch.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

With no-holds-barred relationship drama TELL ME YOU LOVE ME, HBO is redefining what viewers are used to seeing on television and breaking new ground when it comes to sexual content. This isn't a show for the shy -- and it definitely isn't for kids. But it's also one of the most intriguing series to come to cable in a long time.

The most disarming aspect of Tell Me You Love Me isn't the unabashed display of graphic sex (although it's got that in spades). It's the fact that the lives of these characters are so frighteningly familiar that we can't help but see a little of ourselves. There's silence, there's subtext -- and there's truth between the lines.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why a show like this is off-limits for younger viewers but OK for adults to watch. What (or who) determines whether sexual acts shown on TV shows or in movies are considered graphic or pornographic? Do you think the show's producers wanted to create a program that titillates or educates -- or was a mixture of both? What messages does the show send about sex's role in a relationship?

TV details

Premiere date:September 9, 2007
Cast:Ally Walker, Jane Alexander, Tim DeKay
Network:HBO
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-MA

This review of Tell Me You Love Me was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byyuri13 October 20, 2014
Some people here it's doing a review for the content and not the quality.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written bySamurai 2.0 June 6, 2011

Sexual, dirty show.

This is hardcore pornography, and I won't go into description. Not for kids.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written bySadman July 14, 2016

Graphic sexuality destroys the message of the series

Tell Me You Love Me was made nearly 10 years ago and while sexuality on TV has gotten more and more graphic, thankfully this series didn't have an influence on more recent shows otherwise there'd be hardcore on NBC by now. Although the actors claim the sex was simulated (I will take their word for it but there are scenes where you will doubt), the fact is the sex is a distraction. It is so graphic that you'll completely miss the next scenes and dialogue because unless you'll be going "how did they get away with that?" Most notable is the handjob scene in the first episode which is done on a visible penis (a prosthetic to be sure, but still supposed to represent a real penis), ending with graphic ejaculation. Listening to the DVD commentary you hear the show's creator bend over backwards trying to justify it and trying to make viewers offended by it feel guilty. Well sorry, not buying it. And at times it feels like the show is just there to go from one sex scene to the next. Masters of Sex is another series where sex is part of the plot but they don't see the need to be anywhere near as graphic. Which might explain why Masters of Sex has survived for several seasons and Tell Me You Love Me was punted by HBO after only a single, brief season. If you want to see the guy from Parks and Recreation get a handjob or see how low a respected actress like Jane Alexander could go in the latter stages of her career, this is the show for you. Otherwise, don't bother. An intelligent, well-performed show for adults about people's sex lives is possible without having to go to pornographic lengths. Sometimes people say "adult" shows are OK for mature teens and kids. The only value in Tell Me You Love Me is as an object lesson on how sexual explicitness can ruin a perfectly good concept and exploit a talented cast.
What other families should know
Too much sex

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?