Sex/Life: It’s Not Much about Life – Netflix Review

There isn’t a shortage of shows about unsatisfied women looking for release or becoming nostalgic for past, more passionate, relationships. While this show doesn’t exactly succeed at maintaining good pacing, it actually manages to address some topics in a more honest manner than the heavy dramas you usually see on Lifetime. Also, for those of you who are interested in such things, the male lead shows it all and makes a lot of men very insecure in the process. It’s like watching another Hemsworth brother appear. Not only is he ripped with an Australian accent, but apparently he’s got an actual Mjolnir in his pants (unlike Marky Mark). 

Australians have come a long way from Crocodile Dundee.

The unsatisfied housewife in this series is Billie Connelly (Sarah Shahi), a former PhD candidate and mother of two who has been feeling less than satisfied with her husband Cooper (Mike Vogel). Naturally, she feels conflicted because Cooper is great in almost every way except that he isn’t interested in the kind of sex that she wants. She is willing to work on things with him, he often seems unwilling. She starts to keep a journal about her past sexual exploits with her ex-boyfriend Brad (Shahi’s real-life boyfriend Adam Demos), which Cooper finds and tries to use as a guide to satisfying his wife. Unfortunately, it turns out that jealousy can only motivate you so far and he doesn’t quite hold up. At the same time, Billie finds out that Brad is now sleeping with her best friend Sasha (Margaret Odette) and thus starts working his way back into her life.

Get it? She’s choosing between great sex and having a nice life.

To its credit, this show does a handful of things very well. First, it is one of the only shows where a woman is depicted receiving digital and oral sex more than she gives it. Given that we recently discovered that Batman couldn’t even be depicted giving Catwoman head on Harley Quinn (an adult comedy cartoon), there has been a discussion about how much more accepting society is of fellatio than cunnilingus and this show does appear to be ahead of that particular curve. Second, it does address the awkwardness of trying to have a sex life with small children in a serious way. In almost every show that depicts new parents trying to rekindle, it’s played for laughs, but here it’s depicted as something that is genuinely causing strain on the marriage. Third, it seriously addresses a lot of problems with parenting that come from other adults being judgmental, but, again, doesn’t overplay it comically. There are just moments when people assume that Billie has nothing to do in her life because she has a baby. Even though she’s not working at the time, it’s still ridiculous that nobody considers that she might also have a life. Last, it has a lot of solid sex scenes. A lot of the show is focused around it, so at least it’s good that the erotic parts are shot well.

Although a lot of it is in a weird light.

Unfortunately, the rest of the show doesn’t really work so well. The show is so focused on its exploitation that it often overlooks much of the life part. It stays pretty low-key, particularly after the first two episodes and the will they/won’t they aspect of her potential affair starts to grow into an “I don’t care if they do and, honestly, I’m not sure I want them to” as it becomes more apparent why Brad is the EX. The structure of the show, with frequent flashbacks that often come out of nowhere, ends up throwing us off more than it drags us deeper. The characters aren’t developed well and often keep retreading the exact same emotional ground over and over until they’ve formed a pit. I give Shahi credit for at least trying to sell most of the miserable narration, but you can only save so much bad writing. It’s telling that about three-fourths of the articles about this show focus on Adam Demos’ full frontal rather than the acting or writing.

Not pictured: Wang.

Overall, if you’re interested in sex, this is for you. If you’re looking for life, try something else.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Fantasy Island (2020): Welcome to Overwritten Plot

Blumhouse continues its new line of “creepy version of nostalgic properties.” It’s lame, boss, it’s lame.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Welcome to Fantasy Island, where all your fantasies become real! It’s run by Mr. Roark (Michael Peña) and his personal assistant Julia (Parisa Fitz-Henley). Five people arrive on the island, having won a contest: Gwen Olsen (Maggie Q), Melanie Cole (Lucy Hale), step-brothers J.D. and Brax Weaver (Ryan Hansen and Jimmy O. Yang), and Patrick Sullivan (Austin Stowell). Gwen is there to take her boyfriend Alan’s (Robbie Jones) proposal that she refused five years ago, J.D. and Brax are there to live it up at a high-class party, Patrick enlists in the army to honor his father (Mike Vogel), and Gwen is there to torture her former bully Sloane (Portia Doubleday). However, they soon find that their fantasies are taking a dark turn… Except for Gwen who was there to torture a person, so that is pretty dark to begin with.

FantasyIsland - 1Cast
There’s something really surprising to the right.

END SUMMARY

This film has 7% on Rotten Tomatoes. I will say that, while this movie isn’t great, I don’t think it’s 7% on RT bad. That’s less than Holmes and Watson and I thought that movie actually gave me brain damage. The problem is that this movie actually could have been really good if they’d just stuck with what seemed like the natural structure for the movie, as opposed to what they ended up with.

FantasyIsland - 2Torture
Also, the dark fantasy of torturing someone for high-school bullying… just why.

The original Fantasy Island show was always about people learning the lesson of “be careful what you wish for,” and usually a specific moral related to the person’s particular fantasy. An episode would typically have 2-3 guests in it who arrive together and then each live out unrelated fantasies, they find out that the fantasies often don’t go the way they expect, and they leave, having learned something. The proprietor, Mr. Roark (Ricardo Montalbon), always seemed to be aware of what was going to happen in the fantasy, giving cryptic warnings, but also saying that he was unable to interfere (though he did once in a while). When I heard that this premise was being adapted into a film, I assumed that it would be a Creepshow-esque anthology, with different fantasies turning into nightmares. When the film started, that still seemed like it would be the case, and that was actually working pretty well. 

FantasyIsland - 3OldSchool
I mean, this just seems like a natural setting for a nightmare.

Unfortunately, the movie decided that, rather than just letting each of the stories wrap up, they start interacting, then end up being part of a larger narrative. While this could have still worked out, the stories really don’t mesh well, and the entire thing feels completely jumbled. Moreover, the larger narrative is extremely stupid and the movie actually takes the time to POINT OUT THAT IT’S STUPID. They try to chalk it up to one character just being nuts, but it feels like a tremendous cop-out. It also feels like they just couldn’t think up full stories for each of the fantasies gone awry and instead decided to just bail out… including bailing on the larger narrative itself. 

FantasyIsland - 4Toast
Cheers, to dropping the ball in Act II.

I think the film really suffers from the terrible third act, because other parts of it were actually working well. I also particularly love Michael Peña’s take on Mr. Roark, because he is much more relatable than Ricardo Montalbon’s “fallen angel” interpretation. This Roark is bound to the island by his own actions and he is forced to cooperate with it. 

FantasyIsland - 5Roark
I’d forgive everything if he did an Ant-Man-style recap of the movie at the end.

Ultimately, I would love to see them give this another try, but I can’t recommend this one. It’s not fun horror, nor is it bad enough to be worth watching as a trainwreck. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.