Fall season premieres have been airing for the past week, more to be aired in the next few weeks, and a popular theme this fall is sex positivity. Compared to their ancestors, Sex and the City and Will and Grace, this season, shows cover a wide spectrum of relationships.
Historically, there have been shows that have made waves and were up-to-date with the family structure. Roseanne, which was one of the first shows to have an openly lesbian character; Full House, child of the '90's here, which show-cased a widowed father; Step-by-Step that showed the realistic family dynamic between two combined families; and most recently Big Love, which represents the very controversial polyamorous lifestyle, are just some.
Sex has always been a key component of marketing. Jewelry, certain fashion merchandise and even shoes use sex appeal to gain a customer base. The past week of watching different premieres, produced by different stations, makes me question which base is this season trying to reach?
The Playboy Club, which can be seen on NBC Mondays 10/9c, is perhaps the most outright example of how the view of sex is changing. The show, which apparently the plot is not historically accurate, provides a look into one of the more controversial jobs in the 1960s. Based in 1963, we are taken into the first club in Chicago. Near the end of the pilot episode we are brought into two different historic scenes that portray the changing sexual politics in the 1960s. The Mattachine Society, formed in the 1950s to protect and improve the rights of homosexuals, illustrated the atmosphere of Chicago in the 1960s. In the next scene we see the new playboy club house mother, played by Jennifer Lewis, speaking to an uncredited actor portraying Hefner, during one of the famous Playboy parties. Both scenes, representing some of the more criticized activities in the sixties, still receive some backlash even now.
Two and a Half Men, airing on CBS Mondays 9/8c, is trying to revive itself after Sheen and brought up the unspoken risks of sex in the first three minutes. Herpes, Chlamydia and genital Warts -- all three of which are very common STIs and not commonly heard on sitcoms -- were brought up by three different former sex partners in the funeral scene marking the character's untimely death in Paris. Later in the episode, Cryer, who portrays Dr. Alan Jerome Harper, is hugged by a naked Kutcher, who replaced sheen and portrays Walden Schmidt.
In the more alternative lifestyle choices New Girl, airing on Fox Tuesdays 9/8c, and stars Zooey Deschanel, makes waves of its own while possible reviving Three's Company for generation y. Set this time with three men and one woman, who happen to find her roommates via Craigslist, we are re-introduced to cohabitating without sex. Near the end of the show, when Deschanel is stood up for a date at a restaurant, her roommates make a heroic move to save her night. Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Damon Wayans Jr. -- Wayans seemed to be only cast for the pilot -- show up at the restaurant and introduces themselves to the waitress as her polyandrous lovers.
Along with New Girl, Free Agents, which airs on NBC Wednesdays 8:30/7:30c, eerily reminds me of some of my past relationships. A show based on two office workers, who are both single and both getting over past relationships, shows the struggles of emotional de-attachment and remembering the rules of Human Resources and inter-office dating. The term "safe word," which is used in BDSM (the acronym for bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadomasochism) also known as kink, was used repeatedly through the pilot episode. "Safe word" is used primarily for checking in with a friend via phone when going on a first date or when participating in a sexual activity. The word "potato" chose by characters Alex and Helen, who are portrayed by Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn, is probably the most realistic portrayal of sex positive practices this fall. The word is simple enough to remember, especially when used in real world situations, and would not be used in usual conversation during sex... if you do talk during sex.
For a more toned down version of sex positive shows Up All Night, a new show this season that airs on NBC on Wednesdays at 10/9c , represents the new trend of stay-at-home fathers and working mothers. Glee, which airs on Fox at its normal Tuesday time slot at 8/7c, is back with its normal relationship entertainment value. In tow Sister Wives, the highly controversial show on TLC that begins airing again this Sunday, October 25th, at 10/9c, will pick up from the end of their mid-season break this past spring. The Browns now find themselves in Vegas and despite the ongoing investigation by Utah, the family is finding themselves in a new culture, new family conflicts, and Robyn Brown, Cody's Brown fourth wife, is now expecting her third child.