The rollout of Netflix's ever-changing Top 10 lineup in 2020 was helpful in giving subscribers a look into what people all over the country are watching and loving at the moment. Some of the top films and shows have been a head-scratcher (I still can't quite explain the global draw of last year's Tiger King phenomenon), but others were practically a given, mostly because they were really horny. New original series Sex/Life is currently among the trending titles on the list, and it should be no surprise that we're collectively leaning into our thirst right now. Sex sells — especially when you've been in the house for over a year.
Sex/Life made its official debut on Netflix on Friday, June 25, and it didn't take long for the steamy new show to secure a position on top (of the Top 10 list). The series is centred on the love life of Bille Connelly (Sarah Shahi), a suburban housewife seemingly living the dream; she's got a handsome, hardworking husband (Mike Vogel) and two beautiful kids to keep her company in their lovely sprawling mansion. However, Billie's happiness is only skin deep. Secretly, she's fantasising about the chaotic but exhilarating life she left behind with Brad Simon (Adam Demos).
Before Billie was a doting housewife, she was a free-spirited young doctoral student at Columbia University whose passion for academia was only rivalled by her passion for sex. That fervour only grew more intense when she began dating music producer Brad, their relationship sparking a sort of sexual reawakening in Billie that led to her going through “73% of the positions in the Kama Sutra." Unfortunately, a flame that hot was always bound to burn out; despite their unbelievable chemistry, Billie and Brad's approaches to relationship were ultimately too different for them to last, leading our heartbroken protagonist directly into Cooper's (Vogel) boring but sturdy arms.
In the present, Billie is doing a tricky balancing act, attempting to be present in her life while also longing for the excitement of the past. What she wants isn't just sex but to feel like herself again, happy and free. (Though getting her back blown out again is pretty high on her wishlist.) Through explicit fantasies and flashbacks, we're able to see exactly why Billie is fiending for the days gone by. She and Brad have sex everywhere — at the club! In a pool! In a car! — and each gratifying sexual encounter is the result of meticulous planning and care, courtesy of the female gaze and an on-set intimacy coordinator.
“I had so many nude scenes in succession that by the end, I was just like, ‘Well, a body’s a body,’” Shahi shared of the demanding role in conversation with Refinery29 Senior TV Critic Ariana Romero. “But the intimacy part of it — that was always nerve wracking for me.”
"It’s sex represented by women for women,” she added.
It wouldn't be a stretch by any means to credit much of Sex/Life's instant success to pandemic-borne thirst. For more than a year, the general public health directive was to avoid or minimise social contact in order to flatten the curve of the coronavirus; we couldn't even see hang out with others, much less kiss or sleep with them. As the social distancing protocol loosens over time, so have our inhibitions, giving many of us the opportunity to finally act on those carnal instincts that we'd been holding back in quarantine. This summer has already been declared the "summer of casual sex," and the limit does not exist on the amount of "Thot Shit" and hot girl behaviour I'm predicting that the world will get into in the next few months.
However, getting some might prove harder simply because we're out of practice. Once upon a time, you could randomly go up to someone and spark an instant physical connection, but these days, a spur-of-the-moment spark isn't as easy when a mask is covering most of your face. There are also other obstacles making hot girl activities more difficult. Are you brave enough to take on pandemic-era dating apps? Is the person you're interested in an anti-vaxxer? Do you even remember how to kiss anymore?
Sex/Life does what other steamy Netflix projects like 365 DNi, Too Hot to Handle, and Elite also accomplished: turning us on. But the Stacy Rukeyser series hits differently now that outside is (technically) open. Don't just watch real-life lovers Shahi and Demos do it on camera — it might be time for you to go be the main character of your own love life. Netflix will still be waiting for you when you get back, I promise.
Season one of Sex/Life is now streaming, only on Netflix.