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HBO’s ‘Minx’ Blends Erotica With Feminism

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“Minx” is an outright sensational series delving deep into gender issues, including contrasting perceptions regarding women’s erotic pleasures versus the male gaze. The show has engaged viewers since its release on HBO Max on March 17. With each episode tackling inherently different subjects transgressing the patriarchy, “Minx” is liberating, hilarious and provocative. 

Doug (Jake Johnson) is an adult magazine publisher, alongside Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond), an aspiring Pulitzer Prize wannabe writer and mastermind behind the feminist magazine, “Minx.” Set in ‘70s Los Angeles, the series follows Joyce as she navigates towards emancipating women from societal norms with the immersion of a unique magazine highlighting women’s pleasures, ideals and bodies. After facing humiliation and rejection with her magazine pitch at a publishing convention, she finds herself teaming up with Doug, allowing his porn publishing company, Bottom Dollar Publications, to take a chance on her ideas. What was originally dubbed “The Matriarchy Awakens,” an aggressive take on women’s issues, suddenly became a playgirl type of read known as “Minx,” including nude shots of featured men along with educational women’s health and feminist empowerment articles.  

Photo provided by womenandhollywood.com

The narrative is a witty blend of erotica and women’s rights coexisting in the genre of comedy. What begins as your typical ‘struggling female protagonist chasing after her dreams’ plot, turns fervently chaotic — yet a little magical — when Joyce is brought into the world of pornography and takes a chance with Doug. Though their ideals don’t match up, the comedic chemistry between the pair is established from the first episode. Doug insists that women want to see male nude bodies on the cover of a female-targeted magazine, while Joyce detests this idea, still extremely caught up in the fantasy that nude bodies are a form of subjugation though they can be ever-so empowering. It is almost as if viewers are learning about contrasting ideals themselves, as well as the wants and needs of women, while the characters divulge on this journey of self-realization in the porn industry. As the series progresses, Joyce learns that her own desires and preferences don’t always have to align with those of women as a whole, and thus “Minx” is born — a pro-feminist magazine that also serves as the first pornographic magazine for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

The series takes a turn when Joyce realizes that she doesn’t have to fear her sexual fantasies and can actually enjoy the nudity that is exposed across the entire front cover of the first issue of “Minx.” At the start of episode one, entitled “Not like a shvantz right in the face,” Lovibond’s performance is spectacular, portraying her character as strong-willed, but a little too stuck in her head. And yet as the series progresses, Joyce becomes someone who is fiercely determined to do whatever it takes to ensure the success of her magazine: going head-to-head with a group of aggressive feminists who believe that “Minx” isn’t as pro-women as she had believed it to be. She confronts their agenda, explaining that you can’t tackle every adversity at once, with each magazine issue featuring different subjects to slowly transgress living in such a male-dominated society. Through this experience, it is evident that Lovibond had studied Joyce’s character arc passionately and combatively as she effectively brings her character to life. 

Minx' Reveals That All Nudity Is Not Created Equal - The New York Times
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Perhaps the most effective inclusion of the series is its more nuanced take on women’s pleasures and desires, containing more subtle shades of raunchy comedy. The magazine features a wide-range of voices from featured model at Bottom Dollar Publications, Bambi (Jessica Lowe), to Joyce’s sister and struggling mother, Shelly (Lennon Parham). Them along with other characters such as Richie (Oscar Montoya), a gay pornographic photographer, establish “Minx” as an extremely inclusive and all-embracing piece of artwork. What was originally pitched as a more confrontational and all-cards-on-the-table magazine became a precise work of activism that encourages women to openly express their identities and sexual freedoms while also working to fight back against opposing forces — a true f*** the patriarchy type of collection that doesn’t actually openly promote aggression, but subtly shouts it. 

Written by Ellen Rapoport, the nudity within is unlike the recent popular HBO series “Euphoria.” Rather than portray nude bodies in a way that seems to objectify both women and men, “Minx” utilizes nudity as a means of further divulging the narrative that photographed bodies can be used as a symbol of freedom and activism to further establish the feminist movement. 

“Minx” is an erotic and pleasurable take on feminism amidst the ‘70s, with fully-fleshed out characters that transcend patriarchal norms and expectations placed on women in America. Its excitingly vigorous plot will indulge viewers on a journey through women’s liberation and portrays porn as something that is liberating, rather than degrading. With two new episodes released every Thursday exclusively on HBO Max, “Minx” is an enticing series that will inspire women and men across the globe. 

McKenzie Boney is an Entertainment Editor. She can be reached at mboney@uci.edu.