TV continues its campaign to ruin sex
Go home, TV, you’re drunk. That’s my only reaction to the announcement that WE tv has picked up a British reality show called Sex Box.
Sex Box is, rather incredibly, not a euphemism for anything. Rather, it’s exactly what it sounds like. The talk-show-style setting features a panel of sex experts sitting on a stage in front of a live studio audience. There is a large, windowless, soundproof gray box behind them.
The box has a door and confessional-style indicator lights: red means a couple's in there, orange means they’re done, and green means … well, I hope it means someone’s in there cleaning the box, because multiple couples use this thing over the course of an hour-long show.
The idea behind the show is that couples – both straight and homosexual, if the UK debut is indicative of the upcoming U.S. version – with relationship issues will enter the box, have sex, then come out and talk about their problems with the “experts.”
Love, devotion, commitment, rules and limitations – these are all good things. Intriguing things. Sexy things. They’re the stuff every good romance is made of. But sex in a box?
If that doesn’t sound awkward and slightly creepy, then I’m not explaining it right.
Here is my main problem with this show, and it’s probably not what you think: I don’t hate Sex Box because I’m a prude. I hate Sex Box because it is the most boring show I’ve ever seen.
Sex Box manages to take sex – SEX! The amazing connection between a husband and a wife that feels incredible and allows mere human beings to create new life! – and make it seem like the most banal, utilitarian, uncomfortable and depressing thing ever.
Seriously, enough is enough. Porn has already ruined the sex lives of a generation of men and women by warping their expectations of the marital act. No, Sex Box isn’t porn, but in a way, it might be worse, because when people watch porn, at least they know it’s fake. Maybe they decide it’s something to aspire to, but there’s still an air of artifice about the whole thing. It’s fantasy.
On the contrary, Sex Box is all about being “real.” But by focusing on the mechanics of various physical acts and sharing depressing statistics about the state of most sexual relationships today, it reduces what should be a sacred, mysterious union of the flesh between a husband and his wife to something much less divine, and certainly less human. The makers of Sex Box seem to think of sex less as a physical expression of love and more as an itch in need of scratching – or a system in need of a tune-up. Gone is the mystery, the sacredness, the spiritual component – to say nothing of the private nature of the act.
The same goes for Dating Naked, the new VH-1 reality show where strangers are dropped off in the nude at a tropical resort and go on dates with a series of other naked strangers, before choosing which one they might like to pursue a relationship with once they put their clothes back on.
What? Why would anyone want to do that?
Look, if you’re married (and statistically, for some of you, even if you’re not), you remember the excitement and vulnerability of the first time your body was exposed to the one you love. For decades, teenagers have even had nicknames for the progressive levels of exposure – First base, second base, third base, and so on. Whatever your moral code may be when it comes to sex, you have to admit, the thrill of the chase is part of the excitement.
So if you’re dumped naked onto a beach with a half-dozen strangers and assigned to go on dates with them, where is the excitement in that? Yes, it might feel shocking at first, but once the shock wears off, what’s next? The mystery is gone.
Contestant Joe probably summed it up best during the series’ first episode: “What the hell is going on? It's like you're naked and I'm naked, and I didn't even get to buy you a drink first.”
TV, stop it. We get it, sex sells. But there’s more to sex than naked bodies and physical mechanics. There’s a reason Romeo and Juliet is a beloved classic and Kim Kardashian’s sex tape is not. It’s the same reason people rooted for Mulder and Scully on The X-Files to get together for the better part of a decade even though they weren’t having sex at all (at least that we knew of).
Love, devotion, commitment, rules and limitations – these are all good things. Intriguing things. Sexy things. They’re the stuff every good romance is made of.
But sex in a box? Random naked bodies on a beach? That just explains why I don’t have cable.