Dear Channel 4. I’m not a prude. Well, I hope I’m not. I like to think I’m enough of a bleeding-heart liberal wimp that I can justify most non-mainstream behaviours by flagellating myself with the nearest copy of the Guardian. But ‘The Joy of Teen Sex’; what the hell were you thinking?
For those yet to see it, imagine ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ but only with teenagers, only sexual problems and hosted by James Corden’s sister. I never got the extreme voyeurism of shows like these, except when an ex-housemate I really never liked went on one once. That necessitated a viewing party and the development of a drinking game. The problem with this show is, despite whatever it pretends its intent is (‘To save innocent kiddies from bad things by showing you their wobbly bits to educate the world about er…. Oh look, it wobbles!’) even the title screams exploitation. There is NOTHING to see here in the Channel 4 pop-up sex shop that you couldn’t go to a GP or a GUM clinic for.
That’s not to say I’m against televised sex-education or shows that get families talking about sex. That’s healthy. But there’s no discussion here about emotion, connection, relationships or trust. It treats sex like you’re troubleshooting a problem with your computer. There’s an awesome turn it on/turn it off again joke there that I’m not going to make. And also a ‘have you made sure it’s plugged in?’ one that I will. If, for example, your boyfriend doesn’t want to go down on you and you’ve been going out for five years, maybe talking about your commitment and other things you can do might be more mature than essentially stuffing his face into her vagina screaming ‘LIKE IT! LIKE IT!’ until he pretends to. Honestly, that smile to camera afterwards made me want to throw up my fish supper (Not a joke, but some very lovely salmon).
Sex is nice. People are talking about it more. This is good. But let’s not pretend this is actual sex education. Hell, sex education professionals are even live-tweeting the show just to correct it (see @DrPetra). This is barely even Eurotrash.