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Is Netflix's 'Sex/Life' A Dud Or A Stud? The Truth About The Sexy Series

Sex/Life Brad Simon Adam Demos Billie Connelly Sarah Shahi Netflix
Netflix

By now, you have undoubtedly heard the buzz about “Sex/Life.” Is it worthy of all of the attention? Arriving last Friday (June 25), the new Netflix series is currently sitting pretty as the #2 most-watched show on the streaming service. “Sex/Life” shows no signs of slowing down as the word-of-mouth simmer continues to sizzle. Is it a dud or a stud? Here is the truth.

“Sex/Life” is this year’s “You” minus the stalking (sort of?). Otherwise, the two shows provide fantastic mirrors to one another. In “Sex/Life,” viewers are treated to the inner thoughts, insights, and concerns of the stunning 30-something Billie Mann Connelly (Sarah Shahi). You see, Billie has reached a crossroads in her life following the birth of her second child.

The former Ph.D. candidate in psychology is now a stay-at-home mom to two young children, her firstborn son Hudson, and her infant daughter, Ellary. Billie (Sarah Shahi) is married to the man of many women’s dreams, the dependable, successful, honorable gentleman Cooper (Mike Vogel, “Under the Dome”). Despite that, “Sex/Life” reveals that Billie is bored to tears. Or rather feverish diary entries.

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After another unsuccessful evening with her husband, Billie is consumed with thoughts of her past life hitting clubs with her best friend, Sasha Snow (Margaret Odette). Eight years after leading that lifestyle rather extensively, Billie still has her best friend. What Billie is missing is her boyfriend from that era, the seemingly irreplaceable Brad (Adam Demos), and boy does she miss him, folks. 

Like many shows and movies before it, “Sex/Life” implements flashbacks to relay the story of Billie’s sordid past. As a result, it is somewhat confusing at times. However, the transitions should be easy to follow if you are watching carefully, although I think the blurring is slightly purposeful. A play on the haze between past and present that Billie is dealing with during her walk down memory lane.

Related: “Sex/Life” Season 1 Ending, Explained: Who Does Billie Choose?

As “Sex/Life” heats up, Billie longs for Brad like an addict. As Billie points out, “love” is a drug, and the withdrawals from Brad are as intense as from any other potion. Unfortunately, the first episode does little to help viewers understand Brad’s appeal outside of the strictly physical. It is a dynamic akin to “Fifty Shades of Grey” minus the controversial elements that comprised that relationship. 

What “Sex/Life” viewers eventually realize is that neither of the men in Billie’s life are bad guys. They are actually really decent guys. The problem for Billie is that she has to be with one of them. In recalling her romance with Brad and questioning her life with Cooper, Billie stirs a hornets’ nest of lust, love, and lingering questions.

On the surface, all of this may sound a bit trite or petty -- it isn’t. This is a more profound show than some might consider it to be. Yes, I disagree with Billie’s choices throughout the series, but I do not think “Sex/Life” viewers are supposed to agree. This is one woman’s struggle to stay in the lane of her commitments while getting pulled into another one.

Billie makes many mistakes, but the empathy for her comes in seeing her at least try (extremely hard) to do the right thing. Isn’t that more than Diane Lane’s “Unfaithful” and other entries in the “cheater” subgenre have given viewers to consider? I think so. After all, Billie is not actually physically cheating on her husband. “Sex/Life” instead explores what it means to perform a “thought crime.” 

Is Billie only thinking about Brad equal to her actually being with Brad? What does the attempt to have everything mean for the modern woman in the post-Victorian period? In Billie’s case, she has a Prince Albert. She also has a “Lord Melbourne,” a man who supposedly made her think and feel…a great deal before she met her husband. So, what is a mom of two to do? “Sex/Life” digs into the messy and tangled web with meticulous abandon.

Episode 5 (“The Sound of the Suburbs”) is where the Netflix show truly breaks out and runs. From there, all of the carefully crafted pieces begin to fit, and a series worth digging into emerges, tarnished yet unvarnished in what it has to share. Billie is a complicated character that Sarah Shahi gets to sink her teeth into a little deeper every episode. 

In Episode 5 of “Sex/Life” Season 1, Adam Demos finally gets his chance to show viewers why Billie is so enamored with Brad. Demos’ expression in the episode’s closing shot is arguably one of the greatest unspoken moments by an actor this year. It is so tender, kind, gentle, and masculine. In it, Demos captures Brad watching his whole “what if?” in one glance.

Sarah Shahi and Adam Demos have natural, raw, sparkling chemistry that makes the Billie/Brad flashbacks work. Shahi and Margaret Odette also bring some incredible friendship vibes to the table as Billie and Sasha work their way through the past and the present. As a whole, the “Sex/Life” cast is extraordinarily believable, with Shahi finally getting the chance to stand in the spotlight she has long deserved. 

There is a lot to digest by the time Season 1’s eight episodes conclude. It is an ending that I look forward to diving into further in a separate feature. Part of the commotion surrounding “Sex/Life” undoubtedly hinges on the interest surrounding the ending. So, is it even worth wading into at all? Yes, and yes. There is a lot to dive into, and it is not a “romance novel” summer read.

“Sex/Life” gets into what the former means for the latter. Many viewers will have to answer for themselves: how much should the former mean in the grand scheme of things? Billie’s husband is not a bad man, and many will probably roll their eyes at her even complaining. I am not saying they would be wrong to get annoyed. Just do not let it keep you from tuning into this stud of a series.

If you loved “Sex/Life,” you should also consider watching “White Lines” on Netflix. Both series deal with similar themes and character developments with the addition of a murder mystery. It only has one season but it ends in a way that should leave viewers satisfied. You can watch both shows on Netflix.

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