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Laugh-out-loud comedies — good for nooky? (Photo: Getty Images)
Whether you and your partner are cuddled up watching a suspenseful scene on The Walking Dead or laughing your heads off together at Andy Samberg in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, there’s no question that one of America’s favorite pastimes can have a powerful affect on your mood.
In fact, experts say that TV shows can even influence your sex life, turning you on or off, depending on what type of genre you’re watching. So before you grab your remote control tonight, here’s a look at some of the most popular shows on television and the hot or cold influences that may have on your libido.
Turn-On: Comedies like Modern Family and Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Feel-good shows that make you laugh out loud release endorphins and relieve stress, which is a top libido-blocker. They also boost your mood, which can help you let go of residual anger from an argument over, say, the credit card bill, rather than going to bed angry and on opposite sides of the bed.
“A lot of couples have unattended-to anger issues, and they keep putting it underground — and no one wants to have sex with someone they’re mad at,” Wendy Walsh, PhD, relationship expert and author of The 30-Day Love Detox, tells Yahoo Health. “Comedy gets you out of that anger state.”
It’s even better if you’re watching a romantic comedy (think: How I Met Your Mother reruns), which Walsh says can spur feelings of love in women. These types of shows can remind you why you fell in love in the first place and rekindle romantic feelings, paving the way for intimacy in the bedroom.
Bonus: Research shows that watching romantic comedies can even save your marriage. A 2014 study found that newlyweds who watched five rom-com films per month and then talked about them after, comparing the on-screen romances with their own relationship, slashed the risk of divorce and separation in half. So the same would likely hold true for romantic comedies on TV. “Spending time after watching the show, talking about the relationship dynamic — was the person good about communicating their feelings? — starts to make us aware of our own relationship dynamics,” Walsh points out. And the resulting feelings of closeness can also bode well in the bedroom.
Turn-On: Scary or suspenseful shows like The Walking Dead and True Detective
Watching a scary show can take you on an emotional roller-coaster ride together, making you feel exhilarated and more alive, especially if the hero or heroine evades harm just in the nick of time. It can also lead to nuzzling between the sheets later on — and not just because you’re clinging to each other on the couch as you watch a suspenseful, life-or-death tale unfold. “The part of the brain that processes fear — the amygdala — is the same part of the brain that processes sexual arousal, so horror movies can stimulate arousal,” says Walsh.
More specifically, thrillers trigger a chemical reaction that is arousing in more ways than one: “When we’re scared, our brains pump out the feel-good chemical dopamine, the same chemical we release when we’re infatuated with someone,” Michael Roizen, MD, chair of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, tells YouBeauty. Roizen also points out that mood-boosting serotonin is released and your heart beats faster during scary scenes — just as it did the first time you kissed your partner. (Aww.)
Turn-Off: Horror shows like Hannibal and American Horror Story
While it’s true that scary TV shows can be a turn-on, ones that are highly gory, sadistic, or a bit of both can have the opposite effect, leaving you upset, queasy, and anxious — not exactly emotions that put you in the mood to get busy. For some, horror shows can even drum up some bad memories. “Watching a horror movie can cause a spike in adrenaline and cortisol levels,” Bruce McEwen, professor in the neuroendocrinology laboratory at The Rockefeller University, tells The Chicago Tribune. “That can trigger memories of traumatic events you have experienced.” So if you’re hoping for a romantic evening, save the gory shows for another night.
Turn-On: Sexy dramas like Masters of Sex, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Outlander
It’s no surprise that titillating dramas, especially the bodice-ripper Outlander, that feature some steamy sex scenes can instantly put you both in the mood. They may even inspire you to try some new moves in the bedroom. Plus, watching power couples who have each other’s backs like the ones played by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in House of Cards (however twisted they may be) can make you both feel on top of the world — and later, each other.