Directors: Kalina Alabrudjinska and Piotr Domalevski
Starring: Sandra Jimalska, Alexandra Skraba and Maria Sobotcinska
Operator: Nikolai Lebkovsky
Editors: Magdalena Chovanska, Sebastian Mialik and Alexandra Govin
Streaming on: Netflix
What makes a good sex scene good? Is chemistry between the main actors? The slow-burning anticipation of the moment? The way the camera frames their bodies in motion? Sexify, eight episodes of a Polish Netflix series, spends a lot of time wondering what makes good sex good, but doesn’t extend the same thought to his sex scenes. This is a show in which we see the main character’s breasts in front of her face, the electro-pop score is interwoven with the sounds of moans and heavy breathing, and the characters are busy against transparent windows, in French hairstyles for servants and complete strangers. So much sex doesn’t have to be so boring or so boring clinical, but the show lacks either the clear eroticism that makes the sex scenes exciting, or the emotional currents that make them memorable.
It is as if the show has coldly embraced the academic look of its main character Natalia (Alexandra Skraba). A virgin 23-year-old university student, Natalia is top class, has no social skills and sleeps with a strict Marie Curie poster above her bed. When a professor tells her that the sleep optimization app she designs for a national competition isn’t sexy enough, Natalia decides to build one that optimizes a woman’s orgasm. She is a rope to her best friend Paulina (Maria Sobochinska), in her own sexually unsatisfying relationship, and a freedom-loving lazy Monica (Sandra Jimalska), whose father will not fund her lavish lifestyle if she does not graduate.
Sex does not just come to determine the relationship between these characters, but also how the series quickly establishes its contrasting attitude towards him. The show begins with a gratuitous scene of Natalia in the shower, only to go out and show that she is there alone. Meanwhile, Paulina’s eyes are fixed on her boyfriend’s, and Monica skips an hour for her regular planning. With a few other things besides their varied sexual experiences to talk about, the conversations between the three presenters become boring and one-dimensional. There is no warmth or shared story to take advantage of to soak up the show with emotion.
Sexify is also a great example of Netflix swelling. When the characters don’t have boring sex, they drag the plots and themes of the show for eight long episodes, when half the performance time would be enough. Side characters are plentiful, but they are not well enough developed to matter, appearing only to add to banal conflicts or to motivate pop psychology. And with all his talk of sexual pleasure and how to achieve it, there is very little Sexify says this is no longer obvious. Insightful insights from Natalia’s research include the observation that stress makes it difficult to orgasm. Other leaders include strange pieces of advice such as “breathe through your vagina” and “urine is a woman’s strength.” There are no consequences for a male character who shoots couples having sex without their consent and shares the footage, a terrible choice for a show that claims to protect safe and empowering sex.
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“People only think about sex,” Paulina says in episode one. The show proves this many times and it is therefore confusing that everyone in this universe approaches it with the enthusiasm reserved for eating a bowl of cold oatmeal. For those looking for more heart and nuances, the Netflix algorithm would be good to recommend an infinitely better series Sex education instead.