Last month, WE tv announced that they're working on an American version of the British reality show Sex Box, in which people have sex in room full of sex experts and non-professional audience members. To fully understand such craziness, Complex staff writer Tanya Ghahremani spent a lot of time watching Sex Box.
There’s no other way to go into a watching a show that bears the title Sex Box other than by saying, “This is really weird.”
If you’re not familiar, the UK series—moderated by journalist Mariella Frostrup, who's backed by experts Phillip Hodson, Tracey Cox, and Dan Savage—features a young couple who, in a television studio, step into a soundproof metal box and bump uglies while a panel of world renown sex experts and a full audience of people sit outside. Of course, no one can see what the couple is getting into inside the box, but still—it’s a weird concept!
Furthering the uncomfortable-ness even more: When the couple is, er, finished, they exit the box and discuss their experience with the panel of sex experts.
Considering that rights to the concept have been picked up by WE tv for an American television remake, I was curious to see how exactly producers could get away with making a show that literally involves a couple having sex during filming without running into issues like network executive freak-outs. I know that UK censorship laws are more lax than the US, and the couple is in a soundproof metal box, but still.
Suffice to say, I had no clue what to expect. And, I’m not going to lie, I went in expecting ridiculousness that one might be more accustomed to seeing on Maury, Jersey Shore, or Jerry Springer—in fact, I was looking forward to it. What’s the point of watching dysfunctional couples on reality television if they’re not going to make me feel better about myself, right?
But, as it turns out, I didn’t get any ridiculousness from the show. Surprisingly, I actually learned a thing or two and got a fascinating look into the lives of other young couples.
The great thing about Sex Box, really, is the diversity: In the first episode alone there’s both a young heterosexual couple that met online and a gay couple. As the serious goes on, individuals and couples of all different genders and sexual orientations are given the spotlight, all to demonstrate the fact that, no matter how different we all are, when it comes to relationships and the need to discuss sex in an open fashion, everyone is the same. In a world that tends to compartmentalize and label everything, it was refreshing (and important) to see that message actually demonstrated on television to reach a mass audience.
As the series continued, and I viewed episode after episode, I began to realize something even deeper: Sex Box is not about the act of sex. It's not about a racy concept of a couple banging in a box while an audience sits outside, or speaking about their experience to a panel of sexperts in their post-coital bliss. It's about teaching the viewer that the world's view of sex is skewed. That's especially the case in the UK and the US, where people are increasingly turning to electronic devices and dating websites in search of even one shred of intimacy. It's important for our own sexual health and the sexual health of generations to come that we learn to speak more openly about the topic. It's crucial that we start teaching people about what sexual intimacy is, and, specifically, how it differs from what's presented in the adult film industry.
By naming the show Sex Box and giving it such a seemingly "shocking" concept of a couple really having sex during filming, the show producer's are going against the norm to show people that it's really not a shocking concept at all. We—myself included, as much as I like to think I'm a progressive individual who's open about and comfortable with sex—have just been conditioned to consider sex as an "off limits" topic to discuss honestly, even with, yes, the people we have sex with.
Yeah, an English reality show just taught me a life lesson. Who would've thought, huh?
Will the American version of Sex Box uphold the same ideas and intentions of its English counterpart? Honestly, there’s the potential—actually, the very real chance—that it won’t. Often times, American remakes of foreign shows either miss the point of the original series (see: MTV's The Inbetweeners) or end up changing things so much to “appeal to an American audience” that the show is no longer what it’s supposed to be in the first place (NBC's Coupling).
But as long as WE tv’s version focuses on the fact that sex and sexual education need to become bigger priorities, the American Sex Box should do its predecessor justice.
Don’t screw this up, guys.