time warp

That time Henry VIII’s infamous JO scene on ‘The Tudors’ made a mess of history

Image Credit: ‘The Tudors,’ Showtime

Earlier this week, it was brought to our attention that Netflix‘s new historical drama, Blood, Sex, & Royalty, features the strikingly hot (and gay!) actor Max Parker as the famously awful King Henry VIII.

Just witness this beautiful man, and then notice how the history books tell us Henry actually looked. Something does not compute!

Related: Unfortunately, this gay British actor is so hot he’s making us thirsty for Henry VIII

But, once we wiped the drool from our faces, we realized there is actually plenty of precedent for depicting this wife-collecting royal as inaccurately sexy. We can’t forget Eric Bana’s smoldering take on the tyrannical monarch in The Other Boleyn Girl, or Damien Lewis as a particularly hot—and hot-tempered—king in Wolf Hall. But, for today’s purposes, we want to revisit not-too-distant TV history to discuss Showtime’s The Tudors.

The notoriously horny epic had no shortage of hotties (including an early breakout role for our Superman, Henry Cavill)—chief among them, Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VII. With those beautiful pouty lips, striking blue eyes, and washboard abs, Meyers looks nothing like the former king… and the series was all the better for it!

Back then, The Tudors was criticized for being too sexual, but the amount of skin feels pretty standard for an adult epic these days, especially in our post-Game Of Thrones world. Of course, today’s TV is a little more keen on equal-opportunity nudity, though Showtime didn’t skimp on the gratuitous butt shots, especially when it came to its playboy king.

One of Meyers’ most talked about nude scenes in The Tudors came *wink, wink* in the season one finale, “The Death of Wolsey,” which aired on June 10, 2007. In its opening moments, we see Meyers’ Henry VIII in his private chambers, pleasuring himself while hunched over a loyal man servant.

While it sure looks pretty gay, we’re treated to a few interstitial shots of Anne Boleyn’s (Natalie Dormer) busty bosom that tell us what’s really on Henry’s mind. As it turns out, the servant is merely there to kneel beneath him with a towel to catch the… um… royal seed.

Image Credit: ‘The Tudors,’ Showtime

Thanks to some strategically placed shadows, this isn’t a full-on nude scene for Meyers, but he certainly shares a lot of himself in this moment that will forever stain our memories. Obviously, it is very NSFW so we can’t share the video, but we’ll help out the curious and drop a quick link to it here.

Related: 5 more shows to stream that feature full-frontal male nudity

It’s kind of funny to think about how much pop culture (and the way we talk about pop culture online) has changed in the nearly 15 years since this episode originally aired. Had this dropped on Showtime yesterday, there would’ve been screenshots, GIFs, and clips of it on Twitter within seconds—think of it as The White Lotus treatment. But Twitter was still young then, and our thirsty reactions to scenes like this weren’t quite so immediate (or, at least, not in public).

And, honestly? It makes us want to go back and re-watch The Tudors. You know, to jog our memories a little!

All four seasons of The Tudors are streaming now via Showtime and its subscriber channels on Amazon, Paramount+, and Roku. Episodes can also be digitally purchased via AppleTV, Amazon, GooglePlay, and Vudu.