Luke Graham continues his episode by episode review of E4’s latest American sitcom…
It’s Just Sex was an attempt by Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 to tell a delicate and tender story about relationships and the act of love… nah I’m just kidding, it’s a typical episode of Don’t Trust that takes the piss out of celebrity sex tapes and one night stands in the show’s typically rude and irreverent way.
The plot examines how June (Dreama Walker) deals with her crush on Charles, an attractive customer from work. The fact that Charles has no brains behind his pretty face means that good girl June, who’s only slept with her fiancé Stephen, is hesitant to have a relationship with him. She is conflicted until roommate Chloe (Krysten Ritter) points out the obvious solution to just have casual sex with him. After some convincing and coaching from Chloe, June successfully beds the hunk, but will she be able to leave it as a one night stand, or will her caring nature prevent her from abandoning the idiotic man-child with a parrot fixation?
The other storyline occurs as a result of June’s spring cleaning, as she accidently gives away a sex tape starring Chloe and James Van Der Beek, which leads to a typical blackmail plot. This is actually cleverly subverted: rather than fretting, James is happy to release it as it will boost his popularity, potentially giving him the winning edge he needs for Dancing with the Stars. Unfortunately, his ‘performance’ is not up to a great standard. Will he and Chloe be able to re-film the tape, despite her “scorched earth” policy of not sleeping with a man more than once?
But, that is all there is to say really. It’s another episode with lots of funny moments, such as pervy neighbour Eli’s hatred of celebrity sex tapes because they are an affront to pornography, and the expanded role of Pastor Jin (Rosalind Chao, Just Like Heaven), but it’s also not a particularly interesting episode. The character of Charles is not very original and the main dilemmas of the story are kind of dull. The themes are shallower in this episode than usual, and I’m just left with little to say.
Okay here’s something highbrow to analyse. Seemingly, a rule of the series so far has been that Chloe’s actions represent, to some extent, either bitchy behaviour or are morally reprehensible. For instance, her tendencies to scam and manipulate people, steal money and lie are bad and bitchy things to do. Of course, the flipside is that June is too naive or too innocently good, and therefore similarly unrealistic and unhealthy, which gives each episode the purpose of bringing these two extremes (Chloe’s negative side and June’s positive side) to a happy, healthy and normal median. However, Chloe is guilty of two bad things according to this episode. Firstly, the fact she does not care about her lovers or the people around her, whereas June cares too much about the feelings of others, which is fine and engaging. The second thing the episode argues, on the other hand, is that Chloe has too much promiscuous sex, which is bad, while June’s decision to rarely, if ever, have sex is also unhealthy. And that’s quite a few shades of bullshit.
A healthy appetite for sex is just as valid a lifestyle choice as celibacy, and the writers’ decision to judge each choice as being the unhealthy extreme is just wrong, essentially sending the message that if you have more than a certain amount of casual sex, then you are a “bitch” like Chloe. I think that is fairly irresponsible of the writers.
Maybe I’m blowing the issue out of proportion or overanalysing things. How can I bring things back to a suitable, cheerful tone? Erm… ooh I know! The funniest moment in the episode is June’s huge grin after sleeping with Charles, because her blond curls and big, puppy-dog eyes make her look as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. Seriously, for me, Dreama Walker’s hugely expressive face often provides some of the biggest laughs and best moments of the series.
Overall, it’s an adequate episode. Not as funny or clever as previous episodes, but not awful. The fact that it essentially recycles plot points from the first two episodes (June’s search for a man was explored in episode two and June losing something important belonging to Chloe was from the pilot) is perhaps the reason I was less interested in this episode. It was the first time this clever, entertaining series felt… unoriginal.
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