In works produced outside Europe, Europeans are often depicted as more sexually free and straightforward than anything else on the planet. The sexually liberal European is typically contrasted with a more inhibited American, or with some other non-European character, who has trouble dealing with her libertine ways. Since this is usually Played for Laughs, the European character tends to be female, as having a woman act this way is considered more outrageous, and therefore more humorous. Men acting in a sexually straightforward manner is considered either normal, or at least not particularly funny.
If the kinky European is a minor character, she's usually presented as a sex object to the protagonist, often with added Fanservice. If she is given more characterization, she tends to be an Ethical Slut. This trope can overlap with Innocent Fanservice Girl, if the supposed kinkiness of the European character is explained by her culture simply not having the same sort of inhibitions that the culture she is contrasted with has.
A stereotypical example of this trope is the blonde Swedish nymphomaniac, though other European nationalities can also be used. The biggest exceptions tend to be Britain and Ireland: British people are commonly portrayed as more repressed than everyone else on the planet, while the Irish are considered too intensely Catholic for sex.
As a narrative trope, Europeans Are Kinky has been around since the 1960s. Earlier examples are rare, at least in mainstream audio-visual media, since before that decade cinema (excluding porn) and TV didn't address sexuality with the level of candour the trope requires. In the 1960s, the Swedish movies I Am Curious (Yellow) (1967) and Language of Love (1969) were among the first films with explicit sex scenes to get a wide international distribution, thus contributing to the stereotypical image of the "kinky Swede". Even earlier, the French film The Lovers (1958), which includes a short (and not particularly explicit) sex scene, was the subject of a famous American court case. A screening of this film in Ohio resulted in the theater manager being convicted for public depiction of obscene material. The manager appealed, and the Supreme Court eventually overruled the conviction, stating that the movie was not pornography, and therefore not obscene.
Even though the aforementioned movies helped establish the image of the sexually straightforward European in the US, they are not examples of this trope as such. Europeans Are Kinky typically appears in works produced outside Europe itself, as a vital part of the trope is that the European character is seen from an outside perspective as an exotic Other.
However, this trope is sometimes used in some European works too, to illustrate perceived cultural differences within the continent. It can appear in British and Irish works, since the British rarely tend to think of themselves as Europeans, and usually use the term "Europe" to mean "continental Europe", and the Irish still have the whole "Catholic guilt" thing going on. Also, while American works generally lump Russia in with the rest of Europe in regards to this trope, Russian authors usually distance themselves from it. Instead, kinkiness in Russian culture is often associated with the The European Union. And in works from Catholic European countries (such as France or Italy), the same trope exists about the women from Northern and Protestant Europe (Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands), who are described as more promiscuous than the local ones.
This trope can sometimes be Truth in Television, as in many European countries nudity and sexuality are indeed considered less taboo than in the United States, making them look kinkier in the eyes of Americans. The "kinkiness" of Europeans also has some scientific proof: in a study published in 2005, citizens of 48 different countries across the world were asked about their attitudes towards multiple sex partners and casual sex. When these countries were put in order based of how promiscuous they are, 13 of the top 20 countries were in Europe, and the United States placed 22nd. The European countries in the top 20 were mostly former Eastern Bloc states and Protestant countries, whereas most Catholic countries in Europe, such as Italy, Spain, and Portugal, actually placed lower than the US. A more truthful way of formulating this trope would therefore be "non-Catholic Europeans are kinkier than most other nationalites", but the ancient Latin Lover trope means that people from Catholic countries are often characterised as kinky too.
Note that the word "kinky" is used here to refer to general sexual liberality and/or promiscuity. Kinky is often associated with unconventional sexual practices, such as BDSM, but they aren't necessarily a part of this trope.
For subtropes tropes about specific parts of Europe (or Europeanised continents), see:
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French
- Everyone Looks Sexier If French
- Freestate Amsterdam
- Gorgeous Greek
- Latin Lover
- Sensual Slavs
- Sexy Scandinavian
- Spicy Latina
- Most of the countries in Hetalia: Axis Powers are European, and the author plays on European-kinkiness a lot. There was even a strip where mostly-European countries were arguing over who invented the condom and was therefore most perverted. In particular, France is the most openly perverted character in the series, to the point of outright sexually harassing people. Meanwhile, according to Italy, even the extremely straitlaced Germany has a hell of a hidden Porn Stash that includes things like bestiality.
- The Czech exchange student Nadia in American Pie.
- In Batman Begins, part of Bruce Wayne's Millionaire Playboy cover (suggested by Alfred so that no one will know Bruce is Batman) is a couple of women he carts around to generate the right sort of attention. This leads to a hilarious scene where they basically strip down in the middle of an upscale restaurant and start bathing in a fountain. Bruce tells the maître'd, "well, they're....European", and when asked to leave, just writes a check and buys the hotel on the spot.
- Bitter Moon: Mimi is a French girl and she's into kinky sex. She's a dominatrix, binds Oscar, they visit a sex shop and so on. Oscar (who is American) is bewitched with her oozing sexuality. Oscar and Mimi are also put in contrast with Brits Fiona and Nigel who appeared very prim and proper.
- Lili von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles.
- There's a Swedish woman with no nudity taboo in Cashback.
- Parodied and played around with in EuroTrip. Scotty's friend Cooper travels with him to Europe in the hope that this trope is Truth in Television, providing the page quote... and sure enough, they find out just how kinky Europeans can get. Subverted, however, when the main characters visit a nude beach in France, only to find it populated entirely by flabby, ugly male tourists who had scared off all of the women.
- Also features a Rare Male Example in the form of Kristoff, who seemingly fulfills Jenny's fantasy of being swept off her feet by a suave, wealthy Frenchman. Then he admits to being married, and suddenly all magic disappears. He doesn't see a problem with it (and neither does his wife). He then makes it worse by casually admitting that he's bi.
- This trope is at least as old as 1965, when it forms one of the themes of the Bob Hope movie, I'll Take Sweden.
- The Swedish blonde Ulla in both the original movie and the musical remake of The Producers is a prime example of this trope.
- The German couple in Super Troopers.
- Naval Cadets series played this both ways at once, when a French man had funny ideas about the Russian bath (see below). He learned what it really is about, but barely survived the experience full of steam and broom.
- Referenced in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. After Tom Sawyer sees Mina Harker bite a man's throat open, he sardonically notes, "They told me European women had funny ways." Though Mina is British and normally fits the aversion.
- Everything Is Illuminated: One of the deleted scenes from the movie showcases Alex's sexual prowess.
- In Summer School, the cast of high school students have gone to the beach together and Italian exchange student Anna-Maria starts to take off her bikini top. To the disappointment of the male students, one of the other girls stops Anna-Maria and tells her "this ain't the Riviera."
- Wayne's World 2: Although none of the characters is in any way shy about sexuality, the Swedish secretary girl even dazzles Wayne with her outspoken desire to "sleep with you in the near future."
- Viva Maria!: Maria I is part-French, part-Irish and Maria II is French and together they show the American audience what a Parisian Variete Show really is like.
- Sinead in But I'm a Cheerleader. Explaining the root of her homosexuality, she simply states "I was born in France." In addition she also "likes pain".
- In Kingsman: The Secret Service, after Eggsy jokingly asks if the imprisoned Swedish princess will give him a kiss for breaking her out, she instantly says she'll give much more than that. When Eggsy has to head off to actually save the world, she says they can do it in the arse if he succeeds. It is made very clear she doesn't have any problem keeping her word. (director Matthew Vaughn was impressed that people managed to get offended by that instead of the film's copious swearing and violence)
- Carry On:
- Carry On Henry had Henry VIII marry a French woman for this reason. He is absolutely delighted all the way to the bedroom to consumate their marriage, until the new Queen ate garlic before sex.
- Carry On Emmannuelle had the titular Emmannuelle and her husband being sex crazy (the wife moreso) and ending up with practically a "litter" of children.
- Tour de Pharmacy has a (fictional) 1980s Finnish credit card commercial wherein a man spills milk on the floor, his wife catches him, and it cuts to him performing oral sex on him (with gratuitous nudity to boot).
- D.E.B.S.: After Amy's lesbian relationship with villainess Lucy Diamond is revealed, Dominique shrugs it off as "not a big deal in Europe".
- Summer Lovers takes place in Greece and features a lot of nude beach footage.
- The Divide by Nicholas Evans makes a passing reference to a "voluptuous Swede called Ulrika" who took her clothes off during a New-Agey dance class and literally gave a guy a heart attack.
- Confessions of Georgia Nicolson gives us Scandinavian Sven, a Rare Male Example. He and his girlfriend Rosie get the furthest through the snogging scale and his outrageous antics are often hilariously sexual, up to and including kissing strange men on the lips and dancing on tables in furry shorts. Since they started dating, Rosie now carries a false beard and a pipe around at all times.
- The D'Angelines from Kushiel's Legacy are a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to the French. They're all incredibly beautiful and base their culture around Eternal Sexual Freedom.
- In Jacqueline Susann's 1973 novel Once Is Not Enough, David Milford makes this assumption about the protagonist, January Wayne, since he knows that she spent the last several years at an "exclusive Swiss school". He gets a rude awakening when he discovers after they have sex that she was a virgin, and that the "exclusive school" was really a rehab center where she was learning to walk again after a motorcycle accident that nearly killed her.
- In The Dresden Files (specifically Small Favor), the England vs. Europe distinction gets called out specifically when Harry expects Luccio to be more sexually conservative since she grew up in the Victorian era. "Victoria was English," she explains smugly, "I'm Italian."
- Betty Mac Donald recalls her sister getting her dates after her divorce with French and German men who could charitably be described as perverts (by 1930s standards).
- Gomez Addams from The Addams Family is a Spaniard, his kinkiness include a Fetish for the French language and BDSM activities like the use of shackles, whips and torture devices as somewhat erotic and/or romantic foreplay (something that, in The '60s, was pretty taboo).
- Three quarters of the plot of 'Allo 'Allo! is generated by this, whether it's René and the waitresses, the German officers and the waitresses, or Herr Flick and Helga.
- The Crazy Ones episode "She's So European" focuses on Helena, a British client of the ad agency who becomes gal-pals with Sydney, and fuckbuddies with both Zach and Simon (Sydney's father). When they both get too emotionally invested, she dumps them for the voiceover artist from the B-plot. She keeps the agency on, though, because she's so amused by their quaint American prudishness and drama.
- The Deuce focuses on the dawn of the Golden Age of Pornography in the early 1970s as obscenity standards started becoming more lax in the United States. Many characters note that they'll no longer need to rely on pornography shipped in from Europe, where it is already fully legal.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Girl in the Fireplace": The various romantic entanglements in 18th-century Versailles prompt this exchange, after the Doctor mentions that the queen and the king's mistress got along very well:
Mickey: King's wife and the king's girlfriend?
The Doctor: France. It's a different planet.
- "The Time of the Doctor": The Doctor's companion Clara invites him to Christmas dinner with her family. The Doctor arrives there naked, much to the shock of Clara's parents (and to the delight of her granny). Clara then tries to explain this odd behaviour by claiming "he's Swedish".
- "The Girl in the Fireplace": The various romantic entanglements in 18th-century Versailles prompt this exchange, after the Doctor mentions that the queen and the king's mistress got along very well:
- The British series Fresh Meat portrays Sabine, a Dutch foreign student, as this. She casually asks Howard to be her fuckbuddy.
- In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Will and Carlton attempt to impress a pair of French girls. The episode was filled to the brim with jokes about how promiscuous and "easy" French women were.
- On Gossip Girl Nate claims to know all about threesomes because he's been to Europe (and because Chuck Bass is his best friend).
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: "Mac and Charlie Die" is heavy on this trope. Dennis finds a new roommate from Europe. The man quickly manages to fill the entire place with sexy kinky ladies willing to do anything. Though Dennis draws the line when his roommate tries to trick Dennis into having a tryst with his own father in a glory hole.
- Mad Men: In "The Jet Set", Don Draper falls in with a bunch of Europeans while on a business trip to California. The most bizarre moment occurs when Don is lying in bed with his conquest of the week, only for her father to walk in and make suggestive comments about Don - to which the daughter responds "Papa, ne touchez pas."
- In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, when Otto and Gretchen tell Francis that they rented the dude ranch to a "low budget indie film company" to shoot on location, Francis tells a performer she looks so familiar but can't remember the title of a movie he's seen her in. She names several of her movies, and Francis becomes horrified, when he realizes that Otto and Gretchen have been cast as extras in a scene where they are supposed to walk in on a couple. Francis convinces the cast and crew to film the scene without sex, but after their debut, Otto and Gretchen mention how disappointed they are that the scene was so boring, saying that they feel sorry for the undersexed Americans who cannot put a good sex scene in a movie once in a while.
- The Man in the High Castle: When Joe goes to a party with the other lebensborn, he finds that they are extremely liberal with drugs and sex, to his surprise: some even discuss sharing girlfriends. This is a reference to the counterculture practiced by hippies during The '60s in our timeline. By everything that's been shown of the conquered United States, it's ironically much more culturally conservative than the heart of the fascist empire. In fact, there seems to be a two-tiered legal system wherein, for instance, open displays of homosexuality are allowed for European nationals, but prosecuted for Americans. At least until Himmler has her carded off back to Germany for "re-education".
- In-European example: One Episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus shows British Vice Police (and later Tudor-Era Noblemen) fighting against the smuggling of filthy mags from Scandinavia. In the Tudor-Era part, the porn-smuggling business is run by the Spaniards.
- On Star Trek: Voyager, Tom Paris creates a holo-program of a French bistro he once frequented. The cast of characters includes the very amorous owner and a half-French, half-Daliwakian gigolo.
- Work of Art: The Next Great Artist: In season 2, the Parisian-raised contestant Ugo talks about how women have inspired his art in a Confession Cam segment. Then he stops himself and mutters, "The French guy talking about women. Goddamnit."
- In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Midge stumbles into a drag show in Paris, after being assured that they do in fact have those in America (during the 50s, mind) she gets into her comedy routine.
"Who here has ever been attacked in public by their husband's secretary?" (over half the club raises their hands) "Right, it's France."
- Legally Blonde: The Musical: Discussed Trope in the musical number "Gay or European?" when the characters speculate whether Nicos Argitacos is simply Mistaken for Gay due to being from Europe or Armored Closet Gay.
- In Passing Strange, a youth finds his way to Amsterdam and discovers the promiscuous hook-up culture in the song "We Just Had Sex", where he experiments with single partners, multiple partners, female partners, and male partners. Being the American in the situation, he's the only one who sees anything unusual about this.
- Valerie, the French exchange student in ACE Academy. It's actually subverted: while she's a huge flirt, she's actually no more experienced in relationships than Yuuna, Kaori, or Mayu. When asked about what being with a man is like, she tries to claim that it's like assembling a computer's hard drive before the others call her on it.
- Pictured above is Sister Sweden of Scandinavia and the World, who's portrayed as being something of a sex maniac, contrasting Brother Sweden, who's something of a prude (though he's mellowed out a bit since the comic's start). Both Brother and Sister Denmark are also portrayed as being on the kinky side, while the trope is averted for the other European characters. Italy's a smooth talker, but not terribly successful at it. Though maybe that's just because he tried his lines on Sister Germany and she wasn't amused.
- Brother America is a bit of an inversion, as one comic has him point and grin at Sister Sweden's chest, then go into shock when she causes actual contact to occur. Brother England is even worse in this regard, crying at his own perverted actions and running away after lightly touching Sister Denmark on her arm and her being unaware of the entire interaction.
- A Zig-Zagged trope on Metalocalypse. Out of the two European members of Dethklok, Skwisgaar (Swedish) is easily the most promiscuous and kinky, but Toki (Norwegian) is by far the least sexually active on account of his extreme childishness.
- In the movie version of South Park there's the porn film starring Cartman's Mum and some Germans that the kids find on the internet. Not just any porn film, but something called "German Scheißeporn" which translates to... well, German shit-porn. Parodying Germany's reputation as the land of dirty porn.◊
- Archer has several characters that fit:
- Konrad Schlotz, a German Chubby Chaser hot for Pam. Though Malorie is able to seduce him into a threesome.
- His 16-year-old daughter, Anka, appears to be a nymphomaniac. It's a front; she is très inexperienced.
- In Transformers: Prime, Knock Out is stated early on to have taken the Alt Mode of a European sports car. Of all the Transformers, he's the one implied to be the sexually active pretty-boy.
- The "Frinkenstein" segment of "Treehouse of Horror XIV" from The Simpsons: Professor Frink is an American scientist about to get his Nobel Prizeand travels to the ceremony in Sweden. The traffic warden in Stockholm is an attractive woman, slim and blonde, and completely naked for no apparent reason. She has just a whistle, white gloves and a police officer's cap.
- Inverted in The Onion article: "Point-Counterpoint: European Men Are So Much More Romantic Than American Men vs. American Women Studying In Europe Are Unbelievably Easy"
- The origin of the old aphorism "Paris in the bedroom, Boston in the parlor." Playing on this trope and New England's Puritan roots.