Billie Connelly (Sarah Shahi) has the perfect life in Sex/Life. She lives in a house on the outskirts of New York with a son who loves her a lot and a baby who is still giving milk. Her husband Cooper (Mike Vogel) is also extremely attractive, friendly, hard-working and a good person. The only problem is that sex is not what it used to be. She feels stagnant, locked in, basically a suckling cow, neglected and forgotten by her husband.
This leads Billie to fantasize in her secret diary. What happened to Brad (Adam Demos), her last lover before meeting Cooper, the one who brought her to climax every time they saw each other? And what would have become of herself if she hadn’t chosen comfort and continued with that whirlwind of fornication that had turned her on from the first time he put her in a hot tub? Of course, when Cooper discovers these reflections and Brad reappears in her life, Billie will find herself divided in two and with the ideal life on the verge of sinking.
The premise of Sex/Life It could not be more clear and obvious in its intentions: it is an erotic tale for bored mothers of repetitive, routine or directly non-existent sexual habits with their monogamous partners. It’s soft, of course, because it airs on Netflix and Sarah Shahi, known for her work on series like The L Word O Life, is not dedicated to audiovisual adult. And it is also as honest as it is bad.
This, for the record, is not intended to be an unfair criticism either. It’s hard to think that creator Stacy Rukeyser would want to make a good series with the help of a team of directors led by Patricia Rozema. The priority was to bring a bit of curiosity to the day to day of the spectators. It should be seen as a couple, so to copy resources and understand the subliminal message of Sex/Life (“Make it better in bed, darling, and treat me like I’m more than a mother”).
But it is possible that it will become the kind of cultural product that those interested will see alone, as if it were a guilty pleasure and as part of a self-care ritual, in the same way that in the past the unforgivable novels of Fifty Shades of Grey, bad to rage but best sellers in all bookstores.
And it is also possible that this audience is delighted with the series B interpretations of the work, with that Sarah Shahi who can go from the “chaotic mother” look to a “sex bomb” in a matter of minutes (one of the successes of the series) or some hunks who in a totally counterproductive way have similar physiques (the color of their hair, their skin, their eyes) although they should sell opposite male ideals.
The goal of Sex / Life is also to provide material that can be fantasized when you say “well, I’m going to the bathtub, don’t bother that I’m tired”. But (and this is the biggest drawback the production has) the spicy element is not particularly stimulating. It’s exactly like Billie’s life before she was once again curious about Brad: lacking in imagination.
Billie’s swaying sexual memories tend to repeat with a realization that has no interesting ideas when it comes to depicting sex. There are the key plans (that if a head between the legs, that if some nipples pointed to the sky in full ecstasy, that if a beefy man’s ass while taking off his clothes) but Sex/Life it fails to create a sexually charged atmosphere.
For comparison, just look at the outstanding thriller Losing Alice on Apple TV +, which has little sex but is implicit in every sequence. Or even fails next to a production like Elite, also from Netflix, which understands much better the creation of carnal situations and fantasies beyond “and we see Billy’s friend practicing oral sex while giving directions to Billie.”
It is this laziness of Sex/Life, of going so erotic and in the end being so little stimulating about it, like who thinks that sexual life as a couple will improve just by buying four candles and eating four oysters, which fails in the series. But, well, works of this style are also usually like that and what ends up less important are the criticisms they arouse.