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Recommended: Minx on HBO Max

HBO Max's workplace comedy about the creation of a feminist porno magazine is funny, sexy, and full of male flesh.
  • Jake Johnson and Ophelia Lovibond in Minx. (Photo: Katrina Marcinowski/HBO Max)
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    Minx Season 1 | HBO Max
    Half-hour comedy (ten episodes) | TV-MA

    What's Minx About?

    A hyper-earnest feminist and a slick porn peddler team up to publish a groundbreaking erotic magazine targeted at women amid the changing sexual politics of the early 1970s.

    Who's Involved?

    • Ophelia Lovibond (Guardians of the Galaxy) is Joyce, a young feminist in early-'70s Los Angeles who has visions of a Pulitzer Prize dancing in her head as she seeks to launch a magazine devoted to the women's movement.
    • Jake Johnson (New Girl) is Doug, the scummy-but-lovable publisher of smut mags with titles like "Giant Juggs" and "Randy Republicans" who knows how to make money and sees room in the market for female-focused titillation.
    • Idara Victor (Rizzoli & Isles) is Tina, Doug's longtime secretary and trusted associate who knows everything — and especially Doug — all too well.
    • Lennon Parham (Playing House) is Shelly, Joyce's older sister who's married with some rambunctious kids but who makes time to offer her sister warm and wise advice.
    • First-time showrunner Ellen Rapoport executive produces the series, with producers Paul Feig and Dan Magnante for Feigco Entertainment.

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    The sexual politics of yesteryear have become quite the popular subgenre on television. And whether we're seeing the struggles to ratify the ERA on Mrs. America or the workaday lives of female wrestlers on GLOW, the underlying message is the same: That was a time of change, you dig? And what better place to watch the sexual revolution in action than the world of skeezy porn publications of the San Fernando Valley?

    Minx tackles this subject matter as a half-hour comedy, and one that blessedly doesn't spare the jokes. In fact, the show revels in the fish-out-of-water charms of Joyce, the crusading feminist, needing to hold her nose and team up with a pornographer like Doug in order to realize her dream of running a feminist magazine. Of course, nobody has any interest in publishing something called The Matriarchy Awakens — her preferred title — but Doug sees dollar signs in the novel idea of creating a smut mag that women will want to buy. The show maxmimizes the push and pull of Doug and Joyce meeting in the middle, he pushing the spoonful of sugar (visible penises) that will make her medicine (feminism) go down.

    At first blush, you might suspect a Sam-and-Diane plotline for our two leads, and Lovibond and Johnson are indeed great together. But if they're going to couple up, there's no sign of it in the episodes that were screened for critics. She may be as buttoned up as he is slick and sleazy (a dynamic reflected perfectly in the necklines of their respective wardrobes), but their bickering chemistry is of a professional variety. This works because it lets the show become a true ensemble gig, which is where it really shines. Within the workspace at "Minx" (the title of both the show and the magazine), Joyce is pushed to loosen up, even as she holds fast to her principles, while at the same time Doug's employees — particularly the fabulous Jessica Lowe as the studio's deeper-than-she-looks supposed "bimbo" and Oscar Montoya as a queer-coded photographer — find themselves increasingly enriched by Joyce's enlightened influence.

    Promos for Minx have promised a lot of skin, and it delivers, with more visible penises than likely all other TV pilots this year. And while the concept of the comedy penis can sometimes carry with it the whiff of panic, fear not, Minx delivers members to fit any mood, from jaunty to matter-of-fact to storyline-advancing. The show's relationship to sex is one of its best assets, having fun with its smutty milieu while also letting Joyce discover, to coin a phrase, the joy of sex. (It also gives her a smoking hot initial love interest played by The Kissing Booth 2 and 3 star Taylor Zakhar Perez).

    The show's secret weapon often turns out to be Lennon Parham as Joyce's sister. Parham has perfected the art of being uproariously funny whilst being impeccably decent on shows like Playing House and Best Friends Forever. Here, in a role that you might expect to be a scold or even just a sounding board, she offers the perspective of Joyce's ideal target audience: a housewife with an open mind.

    Pairs well with

    • GLOW, if you're looking for a good-natured battle of the sexes with an engaging supporting cast.
    • The Deuce, if you're looking for a more dramatic take on the intersection of pornography and sexual politics.
    • Masters of Sex, if you're looking to see the advances in sexual sociology that Joyce wants to publicize in her magazine.

  • Minx (Season 1)
    Premieres on HBO Max March 17, 2022. New episodes Thursdays through April 14.
    Created by: Ellen Rapoport.
    Starring: Ophelia Lovibond, Jake Johnson, Idara Victor, Lennon Parham, Oscar Montoya, Jessica Lowe, and Michael Angarano.
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    TOPICS: Minx, HBO Max, Ellen Rapoport, Idara Victor, Jake Johnson, Jessica Lowe, Lennon Parham, Michael Angarano, Ophelia Lovibond, Oscar Montoya