My friend texted me the other day: “Did you see THE penis?” 

I was a little confused. I mean, I’ve seen a few penises. Also? This friend is a lesbian. So… extra confused.

She clarified: “In Sex/Life. Everyone is talking about it.”

The last time everyone talked about a penis in pop-culture was Marky Mark’s five-dollar foot long from Boogie Nights—also known as the first time you ever heard a guy say, “that can’t be real!” in the same tone reserved for women talking about the assets of adult entertainers.

So, I was intrigued.

Full disclosure: I only made it to episode four. I saw the penis heard around the world. And then I texted my friend: “Okay, saw it. Now be honest: is it worth it to continue watching ‘cause I can’t even legitimately hate-watch this crap.”

“Nope, you got what you came for.”

The plot thickens (as do other things)

From what I gathered from the three episodes I choked down, the goal of this show is to land someplace between “50 Shades of Gray” and those funny “Porn for Women” memes that have hot, shirtless guys vacuuming. All this with a healthy dash of the same brand of soft-core porn you may remember from the early 90’s Cinemax After Dark (aka: Skinamax).

Is there a plot? Ehhhhh. Kinda. Ex-party girl has lots of sex. She gets more oral sex from strangers than pretty much all the straight women in the world combined. She gets her heart broken by the wild and super-hot “bad boy” with sexy, mussed up hair. She settles down with the rich, stable, sensitive (but still super-hot) “good boy” with sexy, coiffed hair.  She has two adorable kids and lives in an amazing house with just the right amount of perfectly placed toy clutter. This is so you know she’s “real.”

But… then the first world problems come in abundance. She’s bored. She feels undesirable. She stays in her appropriately “matronly” yet still kind-of-sexy white nightgown all day (which has remained remarkably clean for someone with two young children). So, she journals about her good old days. Then the ex-pops back into her life, the husband reads the journal, and voila! Minimal, contrived drama to fill in the three minutes of storyline in-between the sex scenes.

Sex/(un)real life

Meanwhile, your main character is an absolutely tiny size two, totally fit, with very perky “assets” (those can’t be real), yet still breast-feeding an infant. Even in a scene where she leaks breast milk, she manages to do it in a sexy way.

Do you know how many women struggle with postpartum bodies? Mourn the loss of their breasts in exchange for doing what they feel is the right thing to do as a mother? Can’t figure out which part of their body sags the most – the post-baby tummy, the milk-heavy boobs, or the bags under their eyes? Spoiler alert: pretty much ALL of them.

And I get that maybe the goal of the show is to be escapist. A television-version of a Fabio-covered romance novel. Don’t we all wish THESE were our only problems? But, instead of helping us escape our reality, all this show does is rub our faces in how crappy our reality is, while at the same time setting unrealistic expectations for women, and ultimately making us feel like failures. It took me years to convince my husband that REAL women don’t have sex every hour, unlike how they were portrayed in the tv and movies he grew up on. Imagine trying to convince him you CANNOT breastfeed and still have nipples like the main character.

The point

What really bothers me is the show ATTEMPTS to make some good points. It turns slut-shaming on its head by presenting powerful, sex-positive women who don’t apologize for getting TONS oral sex from strangers. As someone who never really liked that act, this was empowering for me to watch. It deals with realistic new-mom issues around feeling less-than-desirable and falling asleep in the shower (can relate).

But when portrayed by someone who clearly has never had kids, never breast-fed, and just makes actual new moms feel worse about themselves, these points are totally lost. Granted your main character is clearly loaded, so we can assume she had the resources (babysitter, personal trainer, dietician, tummy-tucks, vaginal reconstruction – whatever the rich kids are doing these days) to look this way, but we never see that, so her complaints are both laughable and insulting. 

It reminded me of the scene in Sex in the City – the second movie, where Miranda and Charlotte are joking about how hard mothering is and wonder how moms who don’t have cleaners and nannies manage to do it—completely tone deaf to the fact that those moms are 95% of the show’s viewing population.

This show needed to pick a lane. Either be Desperate Housewives and load on the soapy, fake-hot-mom, super-contrived, unrealistic drama. Or be Working Moms and deal with real-life mom problems, portray leaking boobs with some semblance of reality, and use women with real (or at least closer to real) mom bods. Or call yourself Desperate Stepmoms and admit you are just porn. I would watch any of those (read: I already watch all of those). 

So here, lemme save you three hours and a lot of anger. Turn on episode three. Skip to the 19:24 mark. Enjoy. 

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About Lily Winters

A full-time copywriter, Lilly Winters lives outside Washington, D.C. in a house full of animals—which include her husband and teenager. Under a different name, she’s written a book of short stories, a Young Adult novel, and was most recently published in Gravity Dancers. Lilly Winters isn’t posting her real picture because it’s possible she is currently wanted by the Mexican drug cartel. It’s also possible she watches too much Ozark.

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