“Now fuck me.” With those three words, Sex/Life ends its very horny first season — and protagonists Billie Connelly (Sarah Shahi) and Brad Simon (Adam Demos) are on a clear path to (sexual, at least) reunion. The sultry twist may be an abrupt surprise for some viewers, considering the earlier events of the Netflix drama’s finale, “This Must Be The Place.” The final act of the episode sees Billie’s marriage with Cooper Connelly (Mike Vogel) at the healthiest it’s been in eight episodes. Billie is back at school, and she and Cooper are sharing seductive showers and happily attending functions together as a family. After a season of bitter dissatisfaction and conflict, the Connellys, it seems, are finally okay.
Then Billie leaves Connecticut and runs directly to Brad’s apartment for a long-awaited helping of impossibly hot sex. Sarah Shahi, who plays Billie, isn’t shocked by her character’s actions. Rather, she’s quick to point out that Billie’s decision isn’t just about an orgasm — or even Brad.
“When she goes to Brad in those last moments and says, ‘Now fuck me,’ it’s not so much about him. It is about her unleashing this part of herself that she’s been denying for so long,” Shahi tells Refinery29 over Zoom.
The finale sets up this underlying message through Billie’s BFF Sasha Snow (Margaret Odette) and her big book launch event. “You know who else code switches? Women. We fall into line. We fall into language and behaviour which fits expectations men have dictated. We make ourselves smaller,” Sasha tells a crowd while explaining her work The Third Way. Sasha recognizes that some women fall into this repressive trap during marriage. The antidote to this unhealthy coping mechanism, she suggests, is “honouring” your feelings.
“The goal, of course, is to return to that one true self,” Sasha continues, clearly hitting a nerve for Billie. “Regardless of how it makes others feel. That is The Third Way.”
Going to sleep with Brad is Billie’s “third way.” She makes that explicitly clear in the lead-up narration to her appearance at her former lover’s apartment. While at an elementary school play for her son Hudson (Phoenix Reich), Billie says she truly is “happy” every morning waking up next to Cooper. But that cookie cutter life is “not enough,” she realizes before sprinting to Brad. Unbeknownst to Bille, Cooper watches his wife’s flight unfold through a family tracking app on his phone.
“A lot of people go, ‘Is it Team Cooper? Is it Team Brad?’” Shahi says. “I’ve always been on Team Billie. I refute the notion of being able to find yourself or define yourself as a woman through a man.”
That’s why, for Shahi, Billie’s visit to Brad isn’t a win for Brad. Before asking him for sex, Billie tells Brad that she isn’t leaving her husband and whatever may come “changes nothing” in their relationship. This is Billie choosing her full self, messy desires and all. For proof, Shahi looks at the scene where Billie first tells Sasha she can’t stop thinking about her initial relationship with Brad. Sasha assumes Billie misses her ex. “Billie’s like, ‘No! It’s this version of myself. Of who I used to be when I was with him [that I miss],’” Shahi explains.
However, when looking toward the future, Shahi hopes Billie can feel like herself without a partner, whether it be Brad or Cooper. “We’ve all had those experiences, where we had one partner where the sex was better or we were more wild or they brought something out within us,” Shahi admits. “But I think the truth of who we are is: Are we able to allow ourselves to be those things without that person? … I hope as the series continues, that’s what Billie starts to find. She can be this version of herself without any guy.”
Sex/Life’s finale sets up a few narrative pieces to give Billie the room for such a solo exploration. In the second half of the episode, she returns to Columbia, intent on finishing her psychology PhD (amid trips to the bathroom to pump and study). Sasha is pondering marriage, which could suggest a move is imminent — and Billie’s former apartment will be in need of a tenant. Then there’s the matter of Cooper, who, again, is aware of Billie’s “secret” trip to see Brad. The extramarital excursion occurs only days — or weeks, at most — after the Connellys agree to be completely “honest” with each other. It’s unlikely Cooper, who is overcome by jealousy for the majority of Sex/Life, will be quick to forgive such an unexpected betrayal from his wife.
“Billie’s so raw with her emotions. I do not judge her,” Shahi praises her character. Now it’s time to find out if Cooper can be quite so judicious — or if Billie cares either way.