Violence is a central part in many action films and television shows. One could say it is the epitome of conflict management. Oftentimes it jump starts plots as well as ends them. If one is an edgerunner in Night City, the jobs will often have the necessity of fighting and killing. It is a simple fact of how things are in the universe. While some aspects might be able to be toned down, in order to portray Night City as the sort of R-rated place that it is, it kind of needs the snowball effect of different kinds of content being in the show. It really depends on the target audience. How much do you want to sacrifice in terms of content to have a potentially larger audience?
Since Edgerunners is an animated production, the line might be a bit lower on what is generally allowed to be shown. But that gives the show the opportunity to go harder in with the realism and/or stylization. There are people being cut up and shot by cybernetically enhanced individuals, so it is hard to say whether what we see would be an accurate representation of what happens or, rather, a stylized account of it. In terms of realism, it satisfies the hunger for knowledge that prompts us to watch more educational content. As it does not happen, at least usually, people wonder what would happen if this or that happened to somebody, so this show seeks to satisfy their curiosity. When the violence starts getting to the point of stylization, it is mainly for entertainment value. The possibly “primitive” parts of our brains like watching violence, so certain aspects like fighting style and blood content are enhanced beyond realistic expectations. This can also be better for those that do not like seeing realistic blood and gore, as the sometimes goofy nature of stylized violence can take them out of it.
Sexual content and nudity can also be useful in fleshing out a setting or characters. In the case of this type of content, context plays a big role. In one of the first scenes, David is pranked into viewing pornographic material. Contrast that with the many times people are naked around each other seemingly for no reason. Both are surprising, but with the former, it sets up a character named Doc’s personality (as well as likely being a warning to viewers to let them know just what they are getting into). With the latter, some members of the mercenary squad show a bit more skin sometimes (for plot related reasons), and it shows how comfortable the squad is around each other. The same could be said for David and his love interest Lucy towards the end of the show. They are sometimes naked in their apartment together. I would like to think for the same reason the squad does, although the other, more sexual implication might be just as likely, even if the scene itself isn’t like that at all.