If you binged the Netflix’s show Sex/Life about Billie Mann, the happily married mother of 2, fantasizing about her sexual past with a particular bad-boy ex from the city, then you know what I’m talking about when I say THAT SHIT WAS HOT. Like, really hot. But you know what else it was? It was validating af. We rarely get to see ourselves as women represented in television and movies when it comes to our sexual desires. The series was run by women, which could be why the sex scenes were more focused on Billies pleasure and desires. And don’t even get me started on episode 3, 19:50. You know what I’m talking about… 😉
But since we haven’t been able to get enough of this show, have already spent countless hours googling the full cast and their career paths and personal life, and have nothing left to do but play ‘FUBT’ by HAIM on repeat while obsessively waiting for Season 2, we decided to speak with Emily Jamea, Ph.D., LMFT, LPC, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and here’s what she had to say about the show from a professional standpoint.
Dr. Jamea , What do you like most about the show? What are some of your favorite key points from the season?
I like that the show depicts the woman as the one who feels sexually dissatisfied. This breaks the stereotype that it’s always the man who has the higher desire. I can tell you from my years as a sex therapist that Billie’s experience is more typical than you might think. As I said, the show was entertaining, and gratuitous sex scenes were abundant. I appreciated that the sex scenes focused more heavily on female pleasure than what’s typically depicted in popular media. You see foreplay. You see Billie receiving oral sex. You see female masturbation. You also get a glimpse of full-frontal male nudity, something we don’t typically see in mainstream movies. This is a little thing, but I also appreciated that we see so many scenes with Billie breastfeeding and pumping. We don’t often see this on popular TV, and I thought it was great that they normalized it.
Movies and television have always felt like they catered more to men and their sexual desires, and men have been allowed the space to talk about their sexual desires without judgement for a long time now. It’s about time women are given a relatable show in regards to our sexuality without it feeling ‘slut-shamey’. Is there anything else in the show that you think viewers can take away and utilize in their own relationships?
The series shows us the dangers of poor sexual communication. Billie, admittedly, failed to communicate to her husband, Cooper, that she was feeling sexually dissatisfied. We see Cooper as an eager-to-please, ambitious character, so we really have no reason to believe that he wouldn’t have been open to learning how to satisfy her. What does this teach us? As uncomfortable as conversations about sexual satisfaction may be, they are vital for relationship health. In the end, the feelings of awkwardness that come from these discussions pale in comparison to the pain caused by lies and sneaking around.
What are your thoughts on the episode where Billie and Cooper accompanied their friends to that party? That scene with Billie, Trina and Cooper was tough to watch.
I liked that the show gave us a glimpse of the pros and cons of nonmonogamy. When done right, some couples find that nonmonogamy can be a great way to add excitement to a relationship. But when done haphazardly, it can be disastrous.
What are some things you didn’t like about the show, or found unrealistic?
The show reinforces the popular narrative that security and passion are opposing forces. But the research tells us otherwise. I can cite countless studies, including my own research, which find that sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction go hand-in-hand.
Sure, the sex with Brad was hot but taken in the context of the unhealthy relationship, it left Billie feeling empty. Sex, and the relationship in which it happens, should leave you feeling whole and fulfilled. What’s the take-away message? Hot sex in a bad relationship is not sustainable.
The fact is, there are people out there who are both amazing individuals and incredible lovers. I caution people on settling for someone who checks every box except the sex box. Ultimately, bad sex can break a relationship, but good sex doesn’t make a relationship.
And if you could leave us with one thing to take away from this show, what would it be?
So, without giving anything away, let me tell you what we can learn from this series.
Would I recommend watching it? Yes! Despite many cliches, it’s a fun show. More importantly, I think it can prompt a great conversation between you and your partner if this is something you might be struggling with.
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