Minx Star Ophelia Lovibond On Why The Feminist Porn Comedy Is Just What We Need

Image courtesy of Stan
Ophelia Lovibond in Minx
Can you love watching porn and still be a feminist? It's a question Ophelia Lovibond's character learns to answer in new workplace comedy, Minx.
The 36-year-old British actor plays Joyce, a writer eager to publish a high-brow feminist magazine in the 1970s. Unsurprisingly, her pitch is knocked back by every white male publisher in Los Angeles until she meets Doug (Jake Johnson), a low-rent publisher behind a string of smutty titles.
He's willing to take Joyce's ideas more seriously, so long as her articles are embedded amongst pages of oiled-up bare chests and penises in all shapes and sizes. Once she agrees, it signals the start of an unlikely pairing who launch the first erotic magazine for women.
Lovibond, well-known for her work in Guardians of the Galaxy and Elementary, says nudity and masturbation scenes throughout the 10-part series are important in deconstructing a long-lived stigma and shame around women enjoying porn and erotica.
"It's normalising the fact that women are sexual and we have the desire," she tells Refinery29 Australia over Zoom. "There's the masturbation scene and even showing that on screen is something that we don't really see, and you just think, 'Well it's so normalised that men would do it, but not women.'
"I'm not suggesting everyone has masturbation scenes in every single film," she laughs. "But the more you see these things, the less taboo they become. So a lot of the show is kind of saying, 'Yeah, it is completely fine for you to have desires and to look."
Female pleasure has been a greater focus on television of late, with shows such as Sex/Life and The Sex Lives Of College Girls depicting women embracing their horniness and taking control in the bedroom without feeling shame.
But where Minx differs as a sex-positive TV show is in its regular raunchy sequences of naked models casually walking in and out of the editorial office, and the personal development of a rather sheltered Joyce.
Throughout the series, some of Joyce's preconceived notions about what feminism is are truly challenged.
She learns she can be a woman who cares about equal pay and also enjoy looking at a photo of a naked man sprawled across a centrefold. As the first episode demonstrates, "the ability to look does make you feel powerful and there's there's absolutely nothing wrong with that," says Lovibond.
Image courtesy of Stan
Jake Johnson and Ophelia Lovibond in Minx
She's forced to re-evaluate what feminism is when she's "accidentally done something that she would condemn" (no spoilers here) relating to consent and power dynamics within a relationship.
"Joyce is kind of a baby feminist," explains Lovibond. "She has lots of ideas in theory, but in practice, they've not really been tested because she's only ever been around people that kind of have the same ideas."
Through the use of comedy, the actor says Minx explores "just how much more complex feminism is than she [Joyce] has been giving it credit".
So, is Minx based on a true story? According to Lovibond, show creator Ellen Rapoport was inspired by 1970s magazine, Playgirl and similar titles. She wanted to make a funny show that would explore whose idea it was to produce these publications.
"She was kind of pulling from that the fact that Playgirl had incredible articles and things that were not being written elsewhere. And they had naked men in it," says Lovibond.
"And she was just struck by that kind of juxtaposition — reading about access to fair pay, and then turning the page and seeing a naked man reclining on the hood of a car."
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Rapoport said there was no holding back in terms of nudity. After Hollywood has long been accustomed to female nudity on screen, it was time to flip the switch.
She "wanted as many [penises] as we could afford" in "all different kinds, body types, penis sizes, races and specialty ones."
"The way male nudity is used is really gratuitous and I don’t have a problem with that," said Rapoport. "That’s what Playgirl and Viva were doing. I wanted to go tit for tat so women would be able to see men naked.”
With that in mind, this is probably not a show to watch with your parents. And if you're like Lovibond and never reached for the "top shelf" magazines back in the day, don't sweat it because you're about to play catch-up very fast.
Minx premieres on Stan on Thursday, March 17. Watch the trailer below:
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