Update (5th September 2018): Long-awaited relationship drama, Wanderlust aired last night. Ahead of the first episode, the series was hailed by a breadth of newspapers as the "raunchiest" TV show to hit the BBC. The anticipation for an exciting new series that tackled sex in an honest, interesting, no-holds-barred way was pretty high.
But when the time came to watch the first episode, many viewers weren't as readily accepting of what they saw on screen. Twitter was divided, and the majority of comments shared throughout the hour-long episode seemed to focus on how they found the sex either boring or too frequently featured.
Halfway through 1st episode of #wanderlust bbc , but it is going to have to improve remarkably to persuade me to give it a second hour of my time. If I want to watch heavy breathing there is much better soft porn available & many better therapy programmes. Total waste of time— Katebeliot (@EliotKate) September 4, 2018
Despite early enthusiasm from critics about the level of "raunchiness" finally being brought to our telly screens, the real point of Wanderlust is to shed light on the reality of unsatisfying sex in regular relationships in a light, funny way.
Deep down, we all know that the reality isn't well choreographed. It comes with lingering emotional baggage and, funnily enough, happens beyond the confines of our raucous 20s. Yep, awkward sex happens in later life too and, as Wanderlust reveals, it doesn't always look how we might expect it to.
As one viewer tweeted, it's the sort of programme that might challenge the traditional relationship rules we're used to seeing played out. Perhaps the audience's division over the series reveals that, after years of being shown steamy, straightforward, successful lovemaking, we're still not comfortable seeing unglamorous sex on TV.
This story was originally published on 4th September 2018
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Sex isn’t always sexy. Sometimes sex is a bit shit. The circumstances surrounding the whole shebang are often awkward. Sometimes it’s (literally) anticlimactic. But you already knew that, right? The reality of bumping uglies isn’t as idyllic as lots of relationship-oriented TV shows would have us believe. Which is why you should be excited to watch Wanderlust.
Starring Toni Collette, brand new drama Wanderlust begins tonight on BBC One. Sex is certainly a huge part of the programme (ain’t it always?) but what sets Wanderlust apart from the usual fodder is the way it looks at the real-life complexities of trying to keep a relationship going in a society that doesn’t always make it easy. You know, the "relatable" stuff.
We're taught that monogamy is the answer. You meet someone you fancy and spend a disproportionate amount of time working out if they fancy you, too. You hook up. You commit to being intimate with each other (and only each other), get married and live kind of happily for a while after. We all know that's not where the story ends, and the journey is certainly not for everyone, but it's the one that is readily promoted by our society. So, what happens when the pivotal example of this relationship ideal – a fairly well-to-do, middle-aged married couple with two kids – decide to throw that rulebook out the window and redefine what our sex lives could look like?
Allow me to introduce you to Joy (who is played by Collette). She’s a therapist and her office is a fancy shed-like building behind her big, beautiful, successful-adults-live-here house. Joy is married to Alan (Luther’s Steven Mackintosh), a teacher at a local school, and the two of them have found themselves in a sexual rut. Classic. Do you remember the time you optimistically popped into Ann Summers on the way home from work to buy a wildly impractical lingerie set? All in the hope that it would make your partner better/more interesting/more willing in bed? Didn’t work, did it? Well it doesn’t work for Joy, either.
As you might expect, Joy and Alan drift a bit. Not for lack of caring for each other but because they start craving something else. Sex, with someone else. Don't worry, I'm not giving anything away by letting you know that they pursue it. Joy gets her kicks from a very kind man who gives her a lift home from a physiotherapy session; Alan gets his from a younger female colleague, played by Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat).
They spend the series muddling through the scenario we've all pondered at least once or twice. Through Joy and Alan we try to understand if we can have our cake and eat it. Can the benefits of a traditional nuclear family still function while you're fucking someone else? It's a curiosity many of us share but are probably too scared to admit out loud beyond the confines of a few too many white wines with our best friends down the pub. But now we can see how that might (fictionally) play out.
With Wanderlust we find ourselves asking whether monogamy really is the answer. And over the course of six frank, funny and emotive episodes, we're invited to completely rethink the sex rules. Does it count as an affair if you've given your partner permission to sleep with someone else? And how long can you keep it up before jealousy, fear and practicality get in the way? It seems there's only one way to find out. Watch the trailer below for a taste of what's to come.
Wanderlust begins on BBC One on Tuesday 4th September at 9pm