4 out of 5
Created by: Ellen Rappaport
covers season 1
Allowing for the issues of gender disparity and obnoxious politics and America’s own twisted version of morality it covers, we probably wish Minx was a true story: that a disparaged 70s journalist, Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) would gather up her ideas and, through circumstance, package them into the first pornographic magazine – from which the show takes it’s title – geared towards women, aiming to combine actual think-piece literature with images of naked men. Not that such magazines weren’t happening, or that there may not have been a Joyce in the scene somewheres, but Minx is a half-hour, 10-episode comedy series; its B-plots and commentary are always going to be somewhat backseat to giggly meet-cute moments, and hijinx as Joyce navigates her way between high- and lowbrow entertainment.
Which is far from saying that series creator Ellen Rappaport and her team of writers don’t do an excellent job of combining all of the above into a really compelling, and occasionally actually challenging – getting into some interesting gray areas – mix, helped along by the excellent casting of Lovibond, Jake Johnson as Doug, the smut peddler who decides to take a chance on Minx, Lennon Parham as Joyce’s housewife friend, and the various workmates with whom Joyce bonds: Jessica Lowe, Idara Victor, Oscar Montoya. But, again, we have to veer towards a story arc, and laughs, so for every moment that challenges the patriarchy (with the wry eye of how things still haven’t changed nowadays in so many ways), there’s something that cuts back towards comedy; when things are getting a bit too open-ended, in comes a nice roadblock – Doug wants to take the magazine in a different direction! Lawsuits! Romance! – to give us a compact (or cliffhangery, as needed) plot beat. It’s not that these aren’t valid and intriguing pursuits, especially the way Minx wants to juxtapose our perceptions of pornography with the reality of its production, or explore the pluses and minuses of how the sexual revolution of the time affected the cultural conversation, there just isn’t enough time to really dive into these topics beyond some well-intentioned lip-service. Parham’s part in particular – her husband’s inability to please her is, essentially, broadcasted – feels short-shrifted, when there’s probably a longer version of this that parallels her side in things to Joyce’s.
However, taking into account how well the material is juggled in the time we have, and how it does try to touch on everything it can in that time – that is, Minx’s writers do their best to make it clear they’ve at least thought of these things – and not, in the least, to consider how damn funny the show is, these are really quibbles with something that already exceeds the writing and acting quality of most similarly toned comedy series.
But yes, it’s very pleasant, which is why it would be nice if this had been the reality, when we can assume it was probably… much, much worse. Perhaps that’s a negative – that Minx is lacking that dose of truth – but I’d prefer to view it the other way: the show brings up conversations it’s still good to have (that we are still having…), and packaging that in bite-sized, prime entertainment is a good way to get more people talking.