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Nine reasons why you should watch ‘Minx’

By February 11, 2023No Comments8 min read

After HBO Max canceled Minx after one season, Starz picked the show up with plans to host Season 1 and produce the almost-finished second season for their platforms. However, this brilliant savior doesn’t change the fact that WarnerBros, HBO, and Discovery+ are skimming down their rosters, shaking the idea of job security out of critical creatives and contributing to a growing hostile environment for writers, directors, and actors in the digital age.

There are many reasons Minx deserves this second season. I outlined 13 of them below, and why HBO Max has lost an iconic series. Kudos to Starz for seeing the brilliance of this show.

9. That Guy from Sky High.

When was the last time you saw Michael Angarano in something? He’s been working since the Disney cult classic Sky High but not to the notoriety of this iconic project, perhaps except for Almost Famous … and now he’s in Minx?

Angarano is great in Minx; he plays an unmistakable 1970s-mustached man who thinks he’s more progressive than he actually is, probably because his workplace is horrendously misogynist. Despite his performance, I’m still stunned when I rewatch it, and he’s just there—will Stronghold himself, the son of The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston). It rattles my Gen Z bones and fills me with nostalgia for the 2000s.

8. 70s Nostalgia.

The set design, costumes, music, and overall energy give quincuncial 70s vibes. There is everything from flashy patterns in pastels to jewel and brown tones. Pantsuits, fur coats, crochet tops! The costumes are incredible; some elements are current in fashion today, making watching Minx an aspirational show.

The sets and decorations are incredibly well done. Again, with lots of brown and mustard tones in home environments, split-level bungalow homes, Midcentury Modern apartments, and condos. Perhaps I’m too much of an Architectural Digest fanatic, but I cannot ignore how these locations make me feel on an aesthetics level—they’re perfectly musty.

What would a 70s period piece be without funky tunes from the likes of Nina Simone, Steely Dan, and S.O.U.L? Listen to the Apple Playlist here.

7. Minx = Horny.

It’s a TV Show set in the 70s porn industry. Everyone’s horny. There’s sexual tension everywhere you look, yet it’s not from the constant nudity at Bottom Dollar Publishing or the notorious penis montage from the pilot episode but the human connection between characters.

Of course, it helps that Jake Johnson, who plays Porn mogul Doug, with his raspy voice, knarly chest hair, and luscious locks, is carrying on his Nick Miller mess of a man fantasy that we diehards love. The half-unbuttoned, flare pants and platform boots all escalate the ever-flowing sex appeal of TV’s best kisser.

It also helps that the show has a plethora of the 70s bi-curiosity, emerging queer culture, and the backdrop amidst the continuing sexual liberation for women.

6. Minx explores Feminine Pleasure.

Despite the exasperating efforts over the years, it still feels like a revolutionary plotline to show a woman exploring her sexuality by herself—with her fingers or a toy. Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) masturbates for the first time while testing out a vibrator for the magazine. While at the same time, her housewife sister Shelly (Lennon Parham) has been repeatedly left to her own devices in that department because her husband can’t satisfy her. On the flip side, near the end of the series, a disgruntled housewife gives her husband a jalapeno handjob for pressuring her into sex so often when she’s not in the mood.

Minx’s exploration of feminine pleasure is an exciting display of a shifting societal environment somewhat in limbo between conservative ideology and the feminist developing landscape. Where popular 2nd-wave feminism is fairly economical and political, Minx’s approach to the subject comes from a slightly more modern position exploring the power dynamics and sexual freedoms considered taboo at the time—even by “radicals.”

5. Without Intersectionality, Academia Encourages Secular Thinking.

In Episode 6, “Mary had a little hysterectomy,” Joyce ventures to a university searching for a candidate for a profile and ends up speaking to an on-campus feminist society that strongly disapproves of her magazine. They criticize multitudes of her decisions regarding the content, photography, and philosophical logic behind the publication. All critiques seem to ignore the facts that a) specific nudity laws must be followed for the magazine to make it to newsstands, b) articles have to be accessible to the masses, not just academics, and c) advertising does matter because money does not grow on trees.

It’s an age-old dialogue necessary between students and alums; theory does not equal reality. The “real world” is guided by all the things liberal arts degrees fight against, but you can not expect to live in a capitalist society without sacrificing some integrity to play the game. It’s a vicious cycle for recent graduates to come to terms with, particularly those privileged enough not to have to work during their education.  

4. Minx shows 2nd-Wave Feminism in 2D.

As I’ve mentioned before, Minx highlights the two-dimensional thinking of 2nd-wave feminism, or “white feminism,” as we refer to it today. For example, in Episode 8, Joyce appears on a talk show and is publicly humiliated by Victoria Hartnett (Hope Davis), who drags Doug into the conversation, declaring that Joyce’s magazine is a puppet of a misogynist publisher, essentially calling Joyce a sell-out and not a real feminist. Through a modern lens, the purposeful public humiliation of a fellow feminist would be considered anti-feminist. It perpetuates the “catty-woman” stereotype and goes against the motto “support all women”.

The 70s feminist movement had a lot of “you’re not feminist enough” rhetoric that excluded major sections of the female population because of class divides, education divides, race divides, etc. Minx does an incredible job pointing out these missteps with the inclusion of characters like Bambi (Jessica Lowe) and Tina (Idara Victor). Who directly contradicts many of Joyce’s beliefs about feminism, curving some of her character arcs and later proving to be the catalyst for Joyce’s rejection of narrow-minded feminism popularised by privileged white women in New York.  

3. Corrupt Law Enforcement, Because Of Course, It Is.

As we may have all predicted, Doug’s capital in the porn magazine industry hinges on some not-so-legal contracts. He works with the mafia to distribute his publications and has the city councilor in his pocket to keep the police off his back. However, when the new city councilor, Bridget Westbury, enters office, she’s determined to “clean up the Valley”.

Thus, Doug can no longer corrupt police by paying off cops after raids to get back equipment. Still, Westbury is determined to bury Doug in mischievous, ridiculous crimes to rid the pornography industry from the Valley. To the point where, when a 1970s mob raids Bottom-Dollar offices, the police are told not to help by Westbury, putting Doug, Bambi, Tina, Richie, and Joyce in direct danger. Inevitably, it’s the mafia that saves them from the madness.        

These storylines are Minx’s ode to anti-police theory by highlighting the manipulation of “serve and protect” to really mean “harbor and intimidate.”

2. Dicks are Hard, But Gender Rules are Flaccid in Minx’s Porn Industry.

Bambi is one of the few Bottom-Dollar playmates with executive decision-making. She speaks up for herself to Doug and the other editors and photographers at the other Bottom Dollar magazines – she carves out a role for herself in Editorial and is welcomed. Though at times she’s patronized, Bambi is the subverted expectation of the commonly referred to Bimbo. She loves to dress showing skin, she has a higher voice with some common sense differences with people whose worlds exist outside the porn industry, but she’s feeling and intelligent and intuitive in her way. 

Tina is Doug’s secretary but is understood as his second in command. The editors and photographers respect her. She handles plenty of the company’s issues without batting an eye. The others never question her role at Bottom Dollar; her leadership role—though vague in the title—is universally respected by the company.

Minx loves to subvert expectations and show the humanity of people that others may have written off as jokes about the promiscuous nature of the porn industry. One scene stands out when Shelly has to bring her son to Bottom Dollar to help because he was suspended, and the playmates gather around the adolescent. From what we’ve grown to understand from cultural tropes on this particular topic, the audience senses that this young boy is about to experience the sensual teachings of porn stars. Instead, the playmates help Shelly’s son make a get-well-soon poster for the boy he injured at school. 

Richie’s (Oscar Montoya) queer identity amongst the heteronormativity surrounding him at Bottom Dollar portrays a very distinct and essential gap in our understanding of the porn Industry. We know that queerness has existed in these spaces because it can be seen and felt in the work, but the involvement of queer people feels overlooked in popular media. We talk about and know the effect of queer people in the fashion industry, but in porn, in sex work, they seem to be segregated into Queer Sex Work, Gay Porn, Trans Porn, etc., which cannot be the case. Inevitably there must be a crossover, these industries don’t exist in a vacuum, and here he is, Richie. 

1. Strong Character Arcs.

Every character has an arc. Joyce becomes less rigid and, in a way, more liberal and feminist in a different and more modern way. Doug learns to let go of control; he realizes he can’t always be right; he grows to respect the women in his life more and understands his tendencies to act out of fear in poor, inefficient ways. Bambi defends herself more readily and makes more significant decisions in her life. Shelly explores avenues of pleasure she’s never understood while simultaneously combating and sustaining her role as a 70s housewife and mother. Richie grows more confident in his talent and worth and stands up to the norm for his wants and beliefs. By the end of Minx’s first season, Tina takes her abilities more seriously and applies to business school. 

 Everyone grows, learns something, and becomes more than they were initially. It’s a beautiful character study and an ode to the disruptive nature of sensual counterculture that’s shifted and migrated into the modern era. Minx is exploring 70s sexual liberation and directly correlating it to our understanding of contemporary intersectional feminism facing age-old patriarchial conservative values, painting characters that feel both of the 70s era and the current social climate. 

Featured images courtesy of HBO Max.

Isobel Grieve

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