[[caption-width-right:313:''[[TagLine Brace Yourself]]'']]

A pay channel in the model of {{Creator/HBO}}, Showtime debuted on the market in 1976. Originally based in California, the network expanded to national markets two years later. Its original owner was the first incarnation of Viacom, which is now known as Creator/{{CBS}} Corporation, and has the Smithsonian Channel as a sister network as part of a unique deal with that institution for rights to programming involving Smithsonian exhibits and properties (blame this for why you see more programs like ''IceRoadTruckers'' on the History Channel). Showtime lags behind its rivals, HBO/Cinemax and Creator/{{Starz}}/Encore, primarily due to the other networks' stronger movie offerings; it lost the film libraries of its largest providers, Creator/{{Paramount}} Pictures (which was its corporate cousin from 1994 to 2005), MetroGoldwynMayer and Creator/LionsGate, to their own Epix in 2009, but it hasn't been hurt by it at all (while Epix toils in MyNetworkTV-esque obscurity, as several major providers refuse to carry it). However, Showtime does hold the rights to the ''{{Twilight}}'' film franchise, which they air [[AdoredByTheNetwork plenty of times]].

When it comes to original programming, however, Showtime's offerings generally rival those of HBO--especially with its big drama series, the critically acclaimed ''Series/{{Weeds}}'' (which is also AdoredByTheNetwork), and ''Series/{{Dexter}}'', and more recently ''Series/UnitedStatesOfTara'' and ''Series/{{Homeland}}''.

(Though in TheNineties, it was known more for genre shows with a reliance on RecycledTheSeries, with ''Series/StargateSG1'', ''Series/PoltergeistTheLegacy'', and a {{revival}} of ''Series/TheOuterLimits1995'' all starting on the network.)

Back in TheEighties one of its earliest original series was ''Shelley Duvall's Series/FaerieTaleTheatre'', a low budget but well-acted and written series that re-told classic fairy tales with all-star casts, including some of the biggest names in Hollywood. The series was so popular that it became one of the earliest series to get released on home video.

Being a premium network, it has more lenient standards when it comes to profanity and nudity (this is after all where Creator/DavidDuchovny got his start as the "host" of ''Red Shoe Diaries''); something which has been lampshaded over the years.

!!Shows featured on Showtime have included:
* ''Series/TheAffair'' (2014-present)
* ''Series/TheBigC'' (2010-2013)
* ''Series/TheBorgias'' (2011-2013)
* Boxing (1976-present)
* ''Series/{{Brotherhood}}'' (2006-2008)
* ''Series/{{Californication}}'' (2007-2014)
* ''DeadLikeMe'' (2003-2004)
* ''Series/{{Dexter}}'' (2006-2013)
* ''Series/{{Episodes}}'' (2011-present)
* ''Series/FaerieTaleTheatre'' (1982-1987)
* ''Series/FatActress'' (2005)
* ''Series/{{Homeland}}'' (2011-present) Winner of the 2012 Emmy for Best Drama.
* ''Series/HouseOfLies'' (2012-present)
* ''Inside NASCAR'' (2009-present)
* ''Inside the NFL'' (2008-present after a ChannelHop from HBO, one of the [[LongRunner Long Runners]] of cable)
* ''Series/{{Jeremiah}}'' (2002-2004)
* ''Series/TheLWord'' (2004-2009)
* ''Series/MastersOfHorror'' (2005-2007)
* ''Series/MastersOfSex'' (2013-)
* ''Series/NurseJackie'' (2009-present)
* ''Series/TheOuterLimits1995'' (1995-2001, seasons 1-6)
* ''Series/PennAndTellerBullshit'' (2003-2010)
* ''Series/PennyDreadful'' (2014-present)
* ''Series/PoltergeistTheLegacy'', first two seasons
* ''Series/QueerAsFolk'' (US remake, 2000-2005)
* ''Series/RayDonovan'' (2013-present)
* ''Series/SecretDiaryOfACallGirl'' (2007-2011)
* ''Series/ShamelessUS'' (remake of the [[Series/{{Shameless}} UK series]], 2011-present)
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' (1997-2002, seasons 1-5)
* ''Radio/ThisAmericanLife'', television version (2007-2009)
* ''Series/TotalRecall2070'' (1999)
* ''Series/TheTudors'' (2007-2010)
* ''Series/UnitedStatesOfTara'' (2009-2011)
* ''Series/{{Weeds}}'' (2005-2012)
* ''WebVideo/WebTherapy'' (2011 -present)