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HBO’s “Minx” Is a Light-Hearted Comedy About a ’70s Erotic Magazine For Women

by niesha davis

As a writing professional and former sex worker, Minx piqued my interest. A show about two communities that interest me? Sign me up!

Set in 1971, we meet Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond), an idealist and writer, as she is giving a presentation of her feminist magazine, The Matriarchy Awakens, to a bunch of male 1970’s magazine executives at a magazine pitch convention. She’s serious about her stuff, urging them to be on the “right side of history” and these men are… just not interested. One even points at the woman on the cover of her magazine mockup  and asks, “Why is she so angry?”

She leaves the convention defeated, but with one surprise ally: Doug Renetti (Jake Johnson of New Girl fame), a non-sleazy porn publisher who mostly believes in her vision, and wants to fund it, with a few small tweaks—a centerfold and lots of dick pics paired with the brainy articles. The first few episodes find Joyce, ever the entitled white woman, pushing back hard on this, constantly lecturing and talking down to her fellow co-workers, and even the women she claims she wants to help, like her housewife sister (Lennon Parham), who she eventually ends up enlisting in her efforts. 

Other characters rounding out the ensemble include Bambi (Jessica Lowe) a nude model who frequently works with Doug and who has been appointed to help get Joyce’s magazine up and running. She plays the role of 1970’s bimbo with a heart of gold, and, over time, discovers she’s got ideas, too. 

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What I really enjoyed from the three episodes I was sent to review was the commentary on internalized sexism that can often exist in feminist movements. It’s clear Joyce has studied “the greats”: Beauvoir, Wolf, Friedan, Nin—but she doesn’t seem to know how to connect or translate these academic thoughts and ideas to a more accessible tone or viewpoint that women might actually want to read. Plus, she seems to be a prude—a judgmental one at that.

Minx also tackles double standards, racism and stereotypes (on arriving at Doug’s office for the first time, Joyce sees Tina (Idara Victor) Doug’s right-hand woman, not secretary, sitting in the meeting, and asks her to get her some tea), along with changing ethics in the thick of the women’s lib and civil rights movement of the early 1970’s.

For better or worse, the series also gave me some serious flashbacks to all of the issues of censorship I had to deal with when I was working as a magazine editor in China.  I love a good period piece ,and the costuming and styling was spot — it very much gave The Deuce  vibes, but without all of the seediness, which is cool if not terribly realistic for a show that is set smack dab in the middle of 1970’s porn valley. I guess only time, and more episodes, will tell. Either way, I’ll be watching. 

Minx is streaming now on HBOMax

photos: Katrina Marcinowski

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