The second most-watched show in the UK at the moment is Sex/Life.
In an effort to keep my finger on the pulse, I spent Sunday recovering from my raging England Euros victory hangover by binging the entire series. It’s not something I’m proud of. Objectively, it’s terrible. It has 31 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and has been widely savaged by the critics. One Twitter user sums it up: “Is this porn?”
I love-hated it (other shows in that file include The Masked Singer, Say Yes to the Dress and Married at First Sight), which has incurred judgement from friends and family who couldn’t get through more than 10 minutes.
Sex/Life is an eight-episode shagathon that makes Bridgerton seem about as sexy as The One Show. Based on BB Easton’s book 44 Chapters about four Men, it follows psychologist-turned-suburban-housewife Billie Connelly (not that one) as she gets progressively fed up with her safe but sexless marriage.
She begins fantasising and journalling (“The stability and sanity he offered was a soothing balm to my spent, scorched soul,” reads one entry) about her troubled record producer ex-boyfriend who is gifted in the sack and the trouser department (Google “Sex/Life shower scene” or skip to the 19-minute mark in episode three). There are sex parties, more than one swimming pool cunnilingus scene and something called the “coital alignment technique” (please do also Google).
There are attempts to disguise all this shagging within layers of deeper meaning. If one were trying really hard, you could say it’s an examination of monogamy, or about how having children can make someone lose all sense of self. I will say that it is refreshing to see the subject of female desire explored (however heavy handedly) and there is an attempt in there somewhere to show that motherhood and sexuality are not mutually exclusive, mostly by way of sexy dresses and breast pumps. But really it’s pantomime porn. The dialogue is lifeless and, for the most part, the acting is wooden. But it’s what we need.
It’s no coincidence that where Sex/Life is the number two most-watched show in the country on Netflix, just behind it is Too Hot to Handle, a reality competition which sees bronzed, waxed and randy singles who are forbidden from indulging in any form of sexual activity. Many of us have been starved of human contact, gossip and sexual melodrama (Matt Hancock’s CCTV clinch aside) for well over a year and Sex/Life ticks all the boxes. Unless you want clever dialogue and well-developed characters, then I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere.