Have you watched, or are you watching, the Sex/Life Netflix series?
I recently started it, was instantly hooked and promptly polished off Season 1 and 2 over successive nights once the kids had gone to bed. Netflix is a new thing in our lives (we are late to the party!), and I’m generally not a big TV watcher, but as a Mum and Motherhood Coach this series caught my attention for more reasons than the obvious ones.
While Sex/Life has gained significant attention for its explicit sexual content and portrayal of sex, it has also been praised for its exploration of motherhood themes. This is what captured me, along with… well, let’s be real… all the ridiculously attractive characters and the underlying question: will Brad and Billie make it back to each other? Billie is a woman, by the way, and I was fascinated with her character in the show.
The show follows Billie’s story – a mother of two young children who is married to Cooper, a successful businessman and all round nice guy. He’s a ‘safe’ choice as a partner for Billie, including in the bedroom, and she begins to struggle with her desire for her former lover, Brad, with whom she shared a deeply passionate relationship that ended in Brad breaking her heart.
In her seemingly perfect life as a mother and wife in which she appears to have it all, Billie begins to fantasise about Brad. Not only does she long for Brad, their connection, and the incredible sex they had, she longs for the version of herself she was when she was with him.
One of the main motherhood themes in Sex/Life is struggling with, and redefining, a sense of self after becoming a mother.
Billie is portrayed as a mother who, after having her babies, is seeking fulfilment within her marriage and this new version of herself. Her desire for Brad is a manifestation of her desire to reclaim her sense of self – the self in which she feels really alive and really… authentically her.
She wants more but struggles to reconcile her desire for Brad with her love for Cooper and responsibilities to her children. Through her private journaling she questions:
Is what I have now enough for me as a woman?
Who am I now in motherhood?
Is it okay to want something different?
Whose needs do I put first?
Is it possible to have it all?
When Cooper reads Billie’s journal which chronicles, in great depth, her love and mind-blowing (some might say wild) sex with Brad, he uncovers a pre-motherhood side to Billie he realises he doesn’t know. It seems that Billie thought that version of her was no longer her too, until now.
The show also explores the impact of motherhood on a woman’s sexuality. Billie’s desire for Brad is portrayed as a way for her to reclaim her sexuality after becoming a mother. The show highlights the societal expectation that mothers should be sexually repressed and the pressure that mothers feel to conform to this expectation. Case in point: I felt a bit naughty watching Sex/Life, like it was a dirty little secret of mine. I couldn’t wait to get the kids tucked in so I could watch it, and I felt even more naughty telling Adam that I’d watched it. WHY? For exactly this reason: my conditioning and the patriarchy we exist within says that it’s not what I should be doing. To appease my paradigm I should have been folding the clothes and watching a rom-com, because that would be a more okay thing to be doing according to my programming.
The show also explores body image in motherhood. Billie struggles with her body image after having children and is portrayed as feeling inadequate compared to the younger and more sexy women in her husband’s social circle. The show highlights the pressure that mothers feel to conform to unrealistic beauty standards and the impact that this pressure can have on their self-esteem.
Overall, Sex/Life is a show that explores the complex themes of motherhood in a thought-provoking way. You actually get used to the sexually explicit content after a while and you find yourself going “oh there’s another hot sex scene.” It intrigued me, it unsettled me, it really made me ponder through the lens of someone engaged in mother-care and motherhood studies, and I couldn’t stop watching it.
I’m impressed with the real-life issues and unspoken conversations the writers and producers weave in around the abundance of hot characters and sex scenes. I’m delighted the spotlight is on the nuanced exploration of motherhood themes enough that it shines through clearly.
The age-old conundrum: balancing your personal desires with the responsibilities of motherhood.
I’d love to know what you think and how you feel or felt while watching it?