HBO Max’s Breezy Erotic Comedy

When editor Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) attends a meeting to plan the nude male center for the first issue of Minxfeminist porn magazine she’s launching, she wonders aloud about the wisdom of having a naked male in the middle: “Does an erection fit our philosophy?”

Her publisher, Doug (Jake Johnson), responds with another question. “I think you’re missing the point of the middle bend,” he said. “The only question that matters is, does it make you pop?

Minx

Key point

Smart, fun.

Release date: Thursday, March 17 (HBO Max)
Cast: Ophelia Lovibond, Jake Johnson, Jessica Lowe, Idara Victor, Oscar Montoya, Lennon Parham, Michael Angarano
Creator: Ellen Rapoport


Minx, the show, opens the gap between those questions – between lofty ideas and basic desires, between upheld values ​​and sometimes inconvenient living realities. On paper, that sounds oppressive as well as an argument about whether an erection can be feminist. But in reality, the HBO comedy Max strikes balance more confidently than any of its characters, catering to a romantic adventure that also tries to be wise in its sexual interrogation.

Set in the early 1970s – for those who like to put historical epochs in their niche pop culture context, that’s akin to the beginnings of Mrs. My and The Deuceor right after the end Crazy Men – the film follows Joyce, a Vassar alum, as she begins to launch the women’s magazine she’s dreamed of since her teenage years. Ideally, it would be called Matriarchal Mode Awakens and filled with dense, mind-boggling essays on feminist theory. But when the only publisher to express any interest turned out to be Doug, to whom Bottom Dollar printed pornographic records for ordinary men, he and Joyce reshaped her vision. it becomes Minx – the first pornographic magazine aimed at women, blending full frontal nudity with forward-thinking articles.

MinxThe plot of the story may have come from the differences between Joyce and Doug, but creator Ellen Rapoport wisely wrote them as full-fledged, flawed characters rather than stereotypes or arguments. Joyce is a politically progressive liberal, and is also somewhat reserved; she may try to avoid being overly judgmental, but Lovibond reflexively expresses her displeasure with her more sexually liberated co-workers through her unpleasant body language. Doug is not a total killer or a complete saint, but a business geek who has his own reasons for betting on Joyce. Slick and ambitious, he has little in common with the parasitic slugs Johnson has fulfilled in roles like New girl – but with just enough friendliness to make Doug hard not to be mesmerized.

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The sparks flying between Lovibond and Johnson were unmistakable, but they were of the pure, professional kind. After a rough start defined by Joyce’s skepticism towards her new colleagues, the magazine’s core team began finalizing the first five half-hour volumes sent to critics. (of a ten-episode season). Prominent among them is Jessica Rowe as porn model Bambi, who doesn’t take the blonde-bimbo stereotypes of embracing and manipulating them too seriously; and Lennon Parham are delightful as Shelly, Joyce’s housewife sister, who turns out to be better than Joyce in some ways at navigating between the country club and the porn studio.

It is a mark of MinxThe grand aspirations whose episodes frequently look beyond the walls of Bottom Dollar offices, delve into the industry’s close ties to local mobsters and politicians or the distance of it with the “higher class” business world exemplified by the elite in which Joyce and Shelly were raised. But in contrast to the show’s nuanced explorations of Joyce’s journey to sexual awakening or Doug’s longing for professional legitimacy, the discoveries of these older institutions tend to fall into obvious villains as a predatory businessman (Stephen Tobolowsky) or an oppressive female councilwoman (Amy Landecker).

Likewise, care is taken when the series treats Joyce’s views of white, wealthy, heterosexual women – including calling her rights or her oblivion as warranted. — so far, little has been said about non-white or eccentric people, although there are figures like Richie (Oscar Montoya), the gay Latino photographer who gave the magazine a visual style. accessible; or Tina (Idara Victor), the Black executive assistant who keeps Bottom Dollar up and running.

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For that matter, as bold as Joyce and Doug’s ideas seem to be within the limits of the show, some of them seem designed to seriously challenge audiences that have been left out of favor. their interests for half a century. Even the appearance in the fifth episode of Joyce about how women with more traditional gender roles use their power by manipulating their husbands is territory already covered by people like Game of Thrones.

Still, MinxIts limitations are easy enough to forgive when it’s a joy to watch. Aside from the cast’s impeccable chemistry and nimble writing, it also provides a feast for the eyes – appropriately, for a series set in an industry built on on the pleasure of looking. The sets and costumes tell a story of the conflicting ideologies at the heart of the show: Joyce’s fledgling bows couldn’t feel any more different than the loose, loose buttons of her shirt. Doug’s and the rough lines in the offices of a traditional girls’ magazine far removed from the normal anarchy world of Bottom Dollar’s. They also just fun to drink, with all their bright colors and rich textures, and I think more than a few people will walk away Minx with a burning desire to scour Etsy for vintage pieces.

And then, of course, there are copper. Joyce might start the series with the assumption that the penises look “basically the same” — perhaps because, as she admits, she’s only seen two and a half times in her life. But Minx know better. At the heart of the first episode is the image of the dents, which were proudly displayed to the keen eyes of the staff as part of the central casting. Contrary to Joyce’s fear of the members being exposed as being exploited or threatened, director Rachel Lee Goldenberg filmed them to celebrate their diversity and the men’s distinctive personalities. to which they bond – shown by a hip butt, a belt tug, or a fun jazz hand that thrives. Subsequent episodes spend less time exploring private parts, male or female, but the scene feels like a mission statement for the whole show’s candid, playful approach to sex .

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If Minx does not reach its full potential in the first five episodes, what it does do is burst with heart and humor to make even its shortcomings seem more like a testament to its ambitions. is a mark of its failures. After all, Joyce and her staff should know better than anyone that any adventurous activity that’s exciting enough tends to come with a steep learning curve. In the middle of the season, Minx, magazine, has overcome public skepticism, sham writing, and police raids toward an ever-brighter future. If anything, Minx the show finds itself in an even more enviable position: It’s a very good new series and has the potential to get even better, hopefully for many more seasons to come.

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