In Netflix’s Sex/Life, Sarah Shahi plays Billie Mann, a stay-at-home mother of two who looks or feels like anything but. Sex/Life picks up the story where Billie is still feeding her newborn, juggling all household chores, all the while journaling & fantasizing about her ex. Of course, things are never good if you’re yearning for your ex. Those are shaky grounds for any marriage to walk on, but Billie specifically misses the sex.
This is where the quandary lies: we’re told, through late-night sneaky conversations with her friend Sasha, that Billie isn’t happy with her suburban life. But does she yearn the sex badly enough to act on the urge? Would she go crawling back to Brad? And most importantly, if Brad was the best sex of her life & things were going so well, why did they break up in the first place?
All these questions get answered in unserialized flashbacks (where honestly the plot & signposting could’ve been tighter) that punctuate Billie’s day. As she daydreams & reminisces, she’s often brought back into reality by her elder son, who’s weirdly clingy. She has also stripped herself of her ambitions. Or has she really changed? Here’s why you should get this on your Netflix Watch Party & find out.
Sex/Life isn’t fiction
Inspired by BB Easton’s self-published memoir 44 Chapters About 4 Men, all the raunchy scenes are based on true events. Yes, all those scenes in the swimming pool, the quickies in cars, the hooking up with random strangers – were all based on true events. If this doesn’t make it the best candidate for your Netflix watch party, you’re missing out.
The author mentioned in an interview with Oprah Daily, that journaling about her sexual escapades helped her, “That was the most cathartic experience for me. It helped me form a bridge between my current life and the girl I used to be. I was living my current life but I was writing about all these fun experiences and it helped me feel like I was the same person.”
What’s drawing a lot of viewers to the show is the unfiltered nature of sex, but also adjacent themes. The fact that people are talking about the role that sex plays in a marriage, the cause & effect of sex on monogamy, the moral boundaries of loyalty, the titillating possibility of illicit affairs…all of this brings a certain freshness to the show.
In an interview, Sarah & Adam Devos (who plays Brad) shared why they think raunchy content is working right now, “Right now, because of the wild times, we have been through in the last year or so, those kinds of shows and scenes and whatnot can help you escape more easily. I think we are hungry for that kind of freedom at the moment.”
Shahi added, “For myself, I really clung on to shows that had that sense of escapism and intimacy and all that other stuff because I felt I was missing it so much. Connection and all that other stuff—which Sex/Life has. And a little bit more.”
Considering how long it’s taken for the world to understand female pleasure — we only ever had scatological cinema that touched upon female pleasure only fleetingly in the likes of The Ugly Truth — Sex/Life does a great job at letting its females have all the fun they want.
Don’t confuse it with The Bold Type, though. They aren’t preaching about female pleasure here; they’re doing their bit by normalizing it. So, if you want to get your buddies together to openly talk female pleasure, get Sex/Life on your Netflix watch party.
Say what you will about the twists & turns throughout the series, the finale was a belter. There’s a lot to be said about toxic relationships & damaged people. How do people process grief? How long can one act out because of their abandonment issues? We can hold debates to figure out if Billie was being charmed or gaslit by Brad.
But the show was self-aware from the beginning about the repercussions an affair could have on the family of four. They refrained from actually making any character cheat on the other, but left the best cliffhanger for the last moment.