Friday saw the premiere of one of television’s most enigmatic reality shows, “Sex Box.” The show takes couples in distress and has them meet with three relationship counselors for about five minutes of therapy before sending them into, you guessed it, a sex box. While inside they’ll fornicate for however long it takes and then recap the experience in front of a live studio audience.
The first episode saw three couples, with very unique relationship problems, meet with the show’s panel of Sexperts: Dr. Chris Donaghue, Sexologist and Clinical Psychotherapist; Dr. Fran Walfish, Relationship Psychotherapist and Dr. Yvonne Capehart, Pastor and Couples Counselor. Together, the trio gives the couples very frank and cutting advice before sending them into the sound and sight-proof sex box for some intimacy. While they’re inside, the panelists vamp about the problems they’ve just heard and time how long the couple has been fornicating – Turns out 17 minutes is that sweet spot separating good sex from bummer sex, who knew?
The first couple to appear on “Sex Box” was Brandon and Elle. After a year of marriage, the rock and roll couple went from having exciting sex while touring with a band, to having infrequent and unsatisfying relations at home. When they took the stage, the panelists asked the tough questions such as:
- “Sex happens when?”
- “What does it involve?”
- “Is it satisfying?”
Turns out, Brandon has become a very selfish lover since they’ve gotten married and he’s no longer working hard enough to make Elle have an orgasm. They were a good couple for the audience to project themselves on to as their biggest problem was “communication.” She just wanted to have an orgasm and he just wanted to get his and laugh their problems away. Fortunately, that wasn’t going to fly once Dr. Donaghue got involved. He called Brandon out for joking his wife’s intimacy away and being the reason she feels unable to communicate with him… Then he kind of abandoned the idea of giving therapy advice and started to sell them on the idea of entering the Sex Box.
The show is based very heavily on the conceit that, in a post-coital state, human beings are naturally producing more oxytocin, which is true according to Psychology Today. The panelists say this forces the couples to be at their most open and honest – supposedly allowing the trio of “sexperts” to properly diagnose their relationship struggles. What this effectively does is build a device wherein the couple’s problems don’t necessarily need to be sexual in order for the Sex Box to cure what ails them (how convenient!).
Elle and Brandon came out of the Sex Box, wearing one of many pastel-colored satin pajamas that are located inside the box (because the clothes they went in with are…gone?). Turns out the advice worked and he managed to make Elle have an orgasm in a little more than 17-minutes. This made the sexperts content in the knowledge that they’d helped out by getting them to communicate with one another. And just like that, our proof of concept was over, which was fine because by this point we’re totally hooked.
Each segment on the show is broken by groundbreaking street interviews conducted by “Sex Box” correspondent Danielle Stewart. The interviews ask random couples frank questions that are tangentially related to the topic that was just discussed. It’s a little like the street interviews done on HBO’s “Real Sex” in the sense that it is literally exactly the same as the street interviews done on HBO’s “Real Sex.”
After the break, our second couple, Rebecca and Dyson, reveal that they do not have problems in the bedroom. They’ve got a healthy sex life that has been incorporating everything under the sun for years, including having a “threesome, foursome, moresome and everything,” as Rebecca delicately puts it.
So, why are they on stage prepared to have sex in a box on TV? You know, other than the instant fame? It’s because he can’t shake the idea that he would like to invite another woman into their relationship. His fantasy is to have another girlfriend that his wife knows about, and is also dating (she revealed herself to be bisexual early on in the interview). However, the problem is she doesn’t believe that their relationship is in a place to make this dream a reality because they have children!
As the interview goes on, it is quickly apparent that Dyson is the worst man in the history of the world. His biggest fear is getting into too much of a place of comfort in his sex life. He claims five years with the same sexual partner is too long and that he’s been looking to branch out for a while, which is totally healthy and NOT the literal worst thing you can say to your wife. He quotes a Chris Rock bit about "old p---- versus new p----," much to the distaste of Pastor Yvonne Capehart who calls him “horrible.”
The couple enters the Sex Box, which Dr. Donaghue sets up the exact same way all three times, making him the show’s designated “Sex Box” salesman. After a whopping 26 minutes of alone time – they emerge looking… well, gross.
“I’m ready for a nap” he declared.
While high on the truth serum that is increased oxytocin, the panelists prod at Rebecca trying to get her to admit that she’s willing to go along and support all of Dyson’s crazy relationship ideas because she, above all else, doesn’t want to lose her man. She denies it but, the combined weight of the panelists and her husband saying it’s the vibe she’s giving off, allowed everyone to agree that now probably isn’t the right time to incorporate a girlfriend into their marriage – having said that, they were spotty as to when IS the perfect time to do that.
After another street interview segment, the third couple entered to close out the show on an emotional note. Alexia and Christopher used to have really kinky sex. When asked, he revealed that their kinkiest moment was when he received oral sex from her while she was having labor contractions (apparently her sex drive was through the roof while pregnant). Unfortunately that ended up being one of their last hurrahs as she became incredibly closed off sexually after giving birth. He notes that they’ve gone from having sex three or four times a day to doing it maybe once a week. It’s even gotten so bad that she won’t let him play with her breasts anymore because their son uses them.
“He knows the s--t I can be” she says, lamenting that her mental hurdles of motherhood are preventing her from making her husband happy. The Sexperts say… almost nothing, and shoo them into the Sex Box where increased oxytocin can do its magical work. After a “Sex Box” record setting amount of time (31 minutes) the couple emerged and Alexia was finally able to bare her soul.
Turns out her mother gave her up after giving birth at 14. Above all else she’s motivated by caring for her child and, if that means sex falls by the wayside, so be it. After dramatically assuring her that he wasn’t going to leave no matter what, they were cured. At least that’s what the “where are they now” wrap up text at the end of the show said.
Yes, that’s right. After each episode, a brief text scroll reveals how the couples have fared since appearing on the show. We’ll spare you the details and just say that things work out for everyone except Dyson.
Overall, the show is having a bit of trouble finding its footing, which is completely understandable after just one episode. It cannot decide how seriously it wants to take itself, which leads to a lot of moments where the audience isn’t sure if it should be laughing, gasping or snoring. Admittedly it looked like the show was going to lag a bit after Brandon and Elle came out with what is possibly the most common sexual relationship problem, but hearing Rebecca and Dyson’s very unique take on relationships and sex really forced the viewer to wake up and pay a bit of attention.
Still, it’s unclear if there will be any longevity to the whole series given that… Wait, nevermind, next week’s episode has a same sex couple. This show will be on forever.