In the past, sex toys were considered a taboo topic in films and TV shows. Given the limited openness of society, it's not surprising that adult toys were primarily confined to rated-18 movies and occasionally featured in raunchy comedies where they served as comedic elements.
However, with the rise of the sex-positive movement, we have witnessed a gradual shift, and pleasure toys have started making appearances in Hollywood. More than just being showcased, these toys now represent unconventional sexual acts such as pegging, BDSM, and more.
If you're curious about the movies and TV shows that have contributed to destigmatizing sex toys, you've come to the right place. We'll delve into those cheeky and winky moments when sex toys took center stage on screen. So, grab your popcorn, get comfortable, and join us on a playful journey through the times when love toys stole the cinematic spotlight.
1 Rabbit Vibrator – Sex and the City
Let's kick off this guide with the iconic rabbit vibrator featured in the first season of Sex and the City.
During a visit to a sex toy shop with her friends, Charlotte (played by Kristin Davis) contemplates purchasing a rabbit vibrator but hesitates, expressing her desire to "save the sex for someone she loves." However, enticed by the toy's charming design and pink color, she gives it a try... and, well, things take an unexpected turn. Charlotte becomes so captivated by her rabbit vibe that her friends feel the need for an "intervention."
Why is this iconic? Because it happened in 1998, a time when societal norms were more conservative. Featuring a rabbit vibrator on the show was groundbreaking, and it turned the rabbit vibrator into a top-selling sex toy as more women discovered it through the series. The show didn't stop there; there's another scene where Samantha (played by Kim Cattrall) uses a wand massager.
2 Strap-On Dildo – Broad City
In the "Knockoffs" episode of Broad City, Abbi (played by Abbi Jacobson) is taken aback when her neighbor and crush, Jeremy (played by Stephen Schneider), suggests trying pegging. Despite initial confusion, Abbi decides to give it a shot and ends up feeling empowered.
The portrayal is realistic with a touch of comedy—the awkward silences between Abbi and Jeremy, and Abbi's best friend Ilana (played by Ilana Glazer) twerking in excitement after learning about the pegging make the scene quite memorable.
While introducing new sex toys during intimate moments can be thrilling, we strongly recommend discussing potential activities with your partner beforehand. In fiction, things worked out for Jeremy and Abbi, but surprising someone with a strap-on or other love toys may not yield the same positive outcome in real life.
3 Panty Vibrator – The Ugly Truth
We mentioned earlier that sex toys were once portrayed as gags in movies and TV shows, and this is an example of that. While it didn't technically "destigmatize" sex toy usage, it did shine a spotlight on a somewhat overlooked pleasure device—the vibrating panties. In the featured scene, Abby (played by Katherine Heigl) receives a panty vibrator. She decides to wear it to an important dinner, but things take an unexpected turn when the remote control ends up in someone else's hands, leading to an unexpected climax right at the dinner table.
4 BDSM Toys – Bonding
Bonding is a Netflix series starring Zoe Levin and Brendan Scannell. Levin portrays Tiff, a freelance dominatrix in need of an assistant for her kinky gigs. Pete (played by Scannell) becomes her assistant, introducing him to the playful and mysterious world of BDSM. As the show explores BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism), various sex toys like floggers, ticklers, handcuffs, whips, collars, and ropes are featured. While it may not be the most accurate representation of the BDSM scene, it effectively introduces the concept to newcomers. For more insights into the show, you can check out our season one and season two reviews.
5 Ben Wa Balls – Fifty Shades Darker
No list about sex toys in films would be complete without mentioning the infamous Fifty Shades Trilogy. In the second film, Christian Grey (played by Jamie Dornan) asks Ana (played by Dakota Johnson) to use two ben wa balls. She inserts them in her vagina and wears them throughout his parents' masquerade charity ball. The scene is sensually portrayed, but it's important to note that ben wa balls or kegel balls are primarily designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. They contribute to a woman's pleasure when combined with other sexual activities, such as fingering, oral sex, or penetration.
The film also features other toys like floggers, restraints, and handcuffs, some of which can be purchased at sex toy stores.
6 Vaginal Dilators – Sex Education
While not technically classified as sex toys, vaginal dilators earn a place on this list. Introduced in the popular Netflix series Sex Education, the topic arises when Lily (portrayed by Tanya Reynolds) discloses to her partner Ola (Patricia Allison) that she experiences pain due to a condition called vaginismus, making penetration uncomfortable. Lily mentions using vaginal dilators to gradually accustom herself to penetration and reduce discomfort. For more information on vaginismus, refer to our article.
7 Sex Pillow – Master of None
Did you know there are pillows or wedges designed to enhance comfort during new sex positions? Briefly referenced in the Netflix series Master of None, starring Aziz Ansari, Noël Wells, and Lena Waithe, the featured scene involves Ansari's character Dev purchasing a sex wedge known as "the Liberator" to add excitement to his intimate moments with his then-live-in girlfriend Rachel (played by Noël Wells).
8 Fleshlight – Zach and Miri Make a Porno
In the comedic film "Zach and Miri Make a Porno," the character Zack (played by Seth Rogen) humorously introduces Miri (Elizabeth Banks) to the concept of a Fleshlight and even purchases one. Despite its comedic setup, the Fleshlight stands out as one of the best-selling sex toys for men, appreciated for its realistic feel and discreet design.
9 Rabbit Vibrator – The Bachelor
Katie Thurston surprised viewers when she brought her rabbit vibrator to show Matt James during the 25th season of The Bachelor. Using it as a fun icebreaker and a unique introduction, Thurston may not have ended up with James, but her bold decision likely played a role in her later becoming the lead in The Bachelorette Season 17.
10 Spreader Bar – Secretary
A Spreader Bar makes an appearance in the opening scene of the erotic comedy Secretary, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. The initial shot features Gyllenhaal's character, Lee, wearing the spreader bar while attempting to perform secretary tasks such as filing forms and making coffee. It's a provocative and unconventional way to kick off the film—viewed as amusing by some and highly erotic by others.
And there you have it! We trust you've found this brief list entertaining. From steamy scenes to quirky mishaps, it's evident that sex toys have left their imprint on the world of shows and movies. This trend is set to persist as sex positivity gains acceptance in various forms of media.