Honestly, I’m to fault. Because of our incapacity to face cameras or genitals without fainting in dreadful shame, I have repeatedly pleaded in these pages that British people be kept away from any programs about sex or anything even sex-adjacent.
I intimated that Americans were better qualified for the task by doing so. I sincerely apologize. For Sex: Unzipped, a Netflix comedy special branded incorrectly as a comedy special and hosted by rapper Saweetie, has been forced upon us all to disprove my ill-informed assertion.
Saweetie is a fascinatingly bad presenter, particularly for someone who is accustomed to presenting. It’s excruciating to be uncomfortable, self-conscious, and have a flat delivery.
Maybe she’d be happier without the sex-positive puppets? Then then, maybe we’d all do it.
Did I say anything about the sex-positive puppets? Zeke (pronouns they/them and “pansexual as fuck”), Molly (she/her, loves men and women), Mike (“I’m a big gay bear!” on a dating app since evidently sex-positive doesn’t mean anything at all) and married couple Barb and Doug make up this merry, felted ensemble. They offer Saweetie something to engage with and punctuate the portions of the program, which is somewhat smart considering the amount of cringing she barely masks while she’s with them (though they do masturbate around her quite regularly, so fair enough).
The parts include comedians debating contemporary issues such as what is sex-positivity (“Loving everyone and on yourself in all shapes, sizes, and shades,” which seems more like a command than liberation)? What was your first sex experience like?
Do you know what an anal douche is? This generally works about as well as asking comedians to improvise brilliantly on topics that are uninteresting to them.
Some go all out in an attempt to shock: London Hughes relates a tale about her mother telling her when she was 25 to have as much sex as she could “because no one tells you it stops,” so she’s been “catching dick for me AND my mum ever since.” Others approach the endeavor with the disdain it deserves, and in the process, come the closest to offering a chuckle. “I get in the mood for sex by putting my husband’s dick in my mouth,” Katherine Ryan says in the “Setting the mood” part. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
You’d be correct if you thought this was a strange, unfocused, discordant jumble – particularly when you add “with a perverted Sesame Street vibe that doesn’t work, either.” Perhaps there was a real purpose to teach at one point in the creative process – thus the specialists gathering to hurl in their sexual tuppenceworth at the conclusion of each “comic” contribution.
They mostly offer such sound advise as “Pick a partner you trust and communicate ahead of time,” not expecting it’ll be like porn, and not going near anyone’s nether regions if they have to scrape the mold off first (I paraphrase, but only lightly).
One of the specialists, a somatic sexologist (as in Gwyneth Paltrow’s Sex, Love, and Goop), roughly translates as “someone who actually knows what they’re talking about and is willing to explain it via an anatomically accurate vulval cushion”), is worth noting.
The presence of Stella Anna Sonnenbaum alone is worth the price of admission. I’m hoping she gets her own show soon. All you have to do now is adapt for her beautiful German accent. She isn’t referring to the “cheese spot” at all.
Second, drag queen Trixie Mattel poses a query to puppet Dr Ruth: “How do I treat sex workers ethically?” The response is “pay twice.”
It was a moment that stuck out, as one of casual almost-cruelty, and surely stupid ignorance on the part of all those who allowed it through, among the absurd but ultimately frivolous and harmless remainder.
Of course, a hastily put-together piece of nonsense like Sex: Unzipped isn’t the place to get nuanced perspectives on matters like sexual exploitation, sex workers’ rights, or anything else rife with subtlety. In such scenario, they should be taken off the table entirely, rather than being offered in a manner that implicitly expects agreement.
Re-zip the bag.
Thanks to Lucy Mangan at The Guardian whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.