Whether I'm texting my friend Stacy–who has "all this pent up energy" since COVID-19 discontinued our improv classes–or talking to my girlfriend, one thing is clear: Nobody wants to have sex.

I initially believed this might just be a personal issue. Perhaps I was no longer a desirable mate due to the 43 pounds I'd put on since quarantine began in the US.

To get answers, I set out to conduct a survey of my current girlfriend, Becca, and four previous sex partners regarding their sexual preferences. The results? 100% claimed to have enjoyed sex with men "much bigger" than me. Still, Becca stated she hasn't felt satisfied "for a long time" in spite of my recent growth.

The Trump Rump Slump

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Upon seeing the Netflix banner advertising their new program Sex Education starring Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson, I was, as I am with all of Netflix's original programming, confused as to whether it was a series or a movie.

I also remained unconvinced that I needed another high school sex comedy in my life. I grew up on SKINS and Degrassi. I was easily satisfied with the smut that Riverdale was giving me every week, so I didn't think I had room in my life for anything else. Yet, my friend, who has pushed me to watch my favorite shows of the past year (Killing Eve and Marvelous Miss Maisel) told me she loved it, and that I would likely enjoy it too. Within that same day, another person texted me asking if I'd watched it and then hours later someone in a meme page (of course) proclaimed that Netflix had gotten it right big time with this show. It was self-aware, sex-positive and open-minded – all things that are hard to come by in today's media landscape. I was convinced to at least give it a try.

I loved it. I finished it in days (it probably would have been faster if I didn't have work obligations) and in so many ways the show made me gleam with pride over its honest depiction of teenage sex. I was impressed at the depictions of teenagers owning their sexuality and enthralled by the charming characters. Asa Butterfield plays Otis, the son of a sex therapist (played by Gillian Anderson), who is struggling to master his own sexual experiences. His best friend, Eric, is played by the effervescent Ncuti Gatwa who so confidently and maturely experiments with his own sexuality and gender expression. Maeve (played by Emma Mackey), is the outsider who's misunderstood. The world thinks of her as the promiscuous girl at school, but Maeve is brilliant. She makes money by writing her peers essays and is able to support herself despite her absentee parents. She and Otis form a friendship which leads them to open a sex clinic for their peers. Maeve is the business manager, and Otis takes the role of sex therapist because, despite his own lack of experience, the years of eavesdropping on his mother's clinic has given him all he needs to counsel his peers.

The friendship between Maeve and Otis is unlikely, but they bond over their desire to make money while also helping others. In true television fashion, it shows that they're not so different after all. Disappointingly, however, the show falls back on a tired trope – boy and girl become friends, and it quickly turns romantic.

*Spoilers Ahead*

By the third episode, Otis is seemingly falling for Maeve despite her lack of interest in him. In the final episode, Maeve has decided that she must also be interested in Otis, but it's too late as Otis has moved on. This may be the most problematic theme of the show. It's the line that Billy Crystal first uttered in When Harry Met Sally, "Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way." This idea that men and women can't maintain a platonic relationship because of sex has been the plot to many a romantic comedy, but in a show focused on sex positivity, it feels incredibly backwards.

And sure, Otis is in a time where he's desperate for his first sexual experience as a heterosexual male, and Maeve is the first girl he may have been close with. He thinks because she asked him to meet her somewhere (it turns out she needed him to accompany her out of a family planning clinic) that she's romantically interested in him. Instead, in this scenario, I want Otis to take the advice he gives to Maeve's partner Jackson – stop treating her like an object. Just because Otis acknowledges Maeve's interests does not somehow mean he's a better man than Jackson, who has a surface view of Maeve. He's still vying for her attention. He thinks that just because he's better than one guy, this means she must choose him. The reality is Maeve doesn't have to choose between them. She does, in fact, have a third option: choosing neither of them.

Friendships between heterosexual men and women don't have to turn romantic. When I think of the most empowering relationships in my life, the ones that have allowed me to learn about my own sexuality through honest conversation, all that comes to mind are my platonic friendships. I firmly believe that Maeve and Otis could be at the beginning of a similarly meaningful friendship. They're two characters who've formed an unlikely bond, and I want to see the antics that can ensue. What I'm not interested in is the same old "will they or won't they," and then they finally get together, and it ends poorly, and then they can't salvage the friendship. Or they get married. Either way, that's where the trope almost always leads, and I'm bored by it.

Instead, steer Maeve away from being a manic pixie dream girl and Otis away from being the boy who uses a girl to become a man. I want to see them support one another, as friends, because quite frankly, I don't see the romantic chemistry. I see a show developing a manic pixie dream girl for their lead man, but it doesn't have to be that way.

When I look at this show at its most fundamental, I absolutely adore it and want to follow the lives of these characters for years to come. However, I want it to take a sharp turn from the direction it's currently headed. For a show that's doing so much right, Sex Education still plays into traditional, heteronormative stereotypes, ones that are at best antiquated and at worst potentially dangerous. I'm rooting for Maeve and Otis but purely because I want to see them get through the painful years of high school alive. This show is so great, it shouldn't waste its time playing to dated romantic comedy plots.


Samantha is a Boston-based freelance writer and restaurant industry professional. She takes her martinis with gin and olives. You can follow her on Instagram @samantharosmangino


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FILM & TV

BOX OFFICE BREAKDOWN | What's coming to theaters this weekend?

FEBRUARY 9TH-11TH | Find the perfect flick for your pre-Valentine's Day romance session

What's sweeter than taking your crush to the movies and snuggling up in the seats, the old arm over the shoulder move followed by sharing some popcorn?

In Popdust's column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you're in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about have your pants scared off? Maybe just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have it.

Take a peek at our top picks for this week (including what's the best ticket to buy for your relationship status)...

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Satchmode offer up a different perspective on everyone's favorite muse with their debut full-length album, Love Hz.

"It's all an exploration of the darker side of love," explains singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Gabe Donnay. "I'm exploring the natural reaction to the dissolution of any relationship. When you're really close to someone and suddenly you lose them, the loneliness and isolation that follows is just as powerful as the intimacy was in the first place. You end up more alone than when you started. Grappling with that experience is what ties these eleven songs together."

With propulsive synths pulsating, neon energy glimmering, and electro pop harmonies hypnotizing, the Los Angeles quartet—Gabe, Eric Downs, Bo Jacobson, and Sam Skolfield—bring heartbreak to the dance floor. Since emerging in 2013, the group's distinctive brand of "Dream Pop" continues to enchant. Over the course of 2014's Collide EP and the Afterglow EP in 2015, they landed 5 tracks on the Top 10 of Hype Machine, racked up 4 million-plus cumulative streams, and earned acclaim from outlets such as W Magazine, Dancing Astronaut, Marie Claire, Indie Shuffle, The Wild Honey Pie, and many more in addition to placements on prominent YouTube channels such as La Bella Musique and Mr. Suicide Sheep. Since the release of Love Hz, the band has landed 5 songs on Spotify's Viral Top 50 chart across 12 countries.

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Satchmode began in 2013 as a collaboration between Gabe and fellow Baltimore native Adam Boukis before evolving into the current four-piece arrangement. Gabe had been studying neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, but after graduating he decided to refocus on his passion for music, and he picked up and headed to Los Angeles to seek out new opportunities. Influenced by his years of study in many different musical traditions—including classical training on violin and piano as a kid, and later jazz, folk, and bluegrass—Gabe began to forge a style of his own while solidifying the band.

"I like 'Dream Pop' as a descriptor," Gabe explains. "I like the idea that when you're in a dream state, anything is possible. You're drawing on your subconscious and everything that makes you who you are. This is the first project that's allowed me to be open to using all of my influences. There's an emotional core and a naked honesty that comes from the singer-songwriter tradition. There's a meticulous construction and attention to music theory underpinning everything that comes from the classical side. It's very open-ended and free to go anywhere in the future."

Over the past three years, Gabe pieced together the songs that would become Love Hz. He'd construct sonic skeletons in his home studio and expand them with the band in tow. Throughout 2016, a slate of well-received singles (including "Further Away", "State of Mind", and "Undertow") have paved the way for the album, garnering over one million streams and multiple features on iTunes and Spotify. Now, the single "Happiness" struts between sun-kissed synths, an infectious bass line, powerhouse vocals, and unpredictable production. It's an ambitious song that charts a journey from melodic, upbeat pop to a swirling, expansive coda.

"Happiness was one of the last songs I wrote for the album, and I found myself pulling back from the heartbreak themes a little and reflecting on the whole process. Music has always been my last refuge," Gabe admits. "It's the thing that lets me process and deal with all my darkest thoughts and emotions. But of course sometimes I doubt the music itself, and when I do, it feels very overwhelming—like I have nothing left to lean on. The structure of this song mirrors that downward spiral when your negative thoughts and self-doubt are spinning out of control. Things can look fine on the surface even while you're unraveling on the inside."

In the end, it's the raw honesty of Gabe's songwriting that resonates the most on Love Hz. "I hope the music brings people in touch with their emotions," he leaves off. "Everyone has experienced loss, guilt, and regret. It's cathartic to go through that together. You emerge on the other side, and you're okay."

Humor

Guys to Avoid on Halloween, By Costume

Truly nothing more horrifying than a dude dressed as a gynecologist for Halloween.

The men you should steer clear of at parties often come with physical warning signs—the finance bro extra-wide button down, the here-for-the-weekend-from-Jersey graphic tee, and douchebag haircuts of all types. But on Halloween, even the usually well-dressed creeps tend to show their true colors. If you find yourself being hit on this Halloweekend by a gentleman in one of these getups, run like you're being chased by Slenderman.

Gynecologist

~ screaming into oblivion ~Pinterest

Okay, this should be an easy one, and I would hope most adult women know by know to stay away from men who equate OB/GYNs with "person who touches vaginas for a living, heheh," but it bears reminding—don't go there, EVEN IF HE IS CUTE. This poor fool has no idea how slimy, or juvenile, he is.

Adult Baby

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F736x%2F0c%2F48%2Fb7%2F0c48b7daa0ae4f3e7adb33b5b80e1c9d.jpg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fs-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com&s=677&h=974787387330cdb6c53754963182a2cebd1a1bb4a5e2b80e23855184a68726c0&size=980x&c=2295486371 image-library="0" pin_description="" photo_credit="Spirit Halloween" expand="1" caption="Nope."]Nope.Spirit Halloween

This is about as clear as red flags come. If you two start dating and months from now you find yourself doing his laundry, helping him with his taxes (because he's actually never filed before), and watching him pout when you explain to him that flirting with other women hurts your feelings, don't say you didn't see it coming.

Drake

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fbuzzfeed-static%2Fstatic%2F2014-11%2F1%2F11%2Fcampaign_images%2Fwebdr09%2Fpeople-dressed-up-like-drake-for-halloween-and-he-2-26343-1414854091-7_dblbig.jpg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fimg.buzzfeed.com&s=330&h=64d60538e5749ebf74f59f391deef081272331486a4a533235c4e6d185b9d814&size=980x&c=3313251182 image-library="0" pin_description="" photo_credit="Buzzfeed" expand="1" caption="I may not be Rihanna, but you ain't Drake :/"]I may not be Rihanna, but you ain't Drake :/Buzzfeed

This sub-softboy is trying to impress girls, but clearly just doesn't get it. Even Drake wouldn't be Drake for Halloween. He'd probably be, like, Holden Caulfield or something.

Holden Caulfield

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This actual softboy, if over the age of 18, is too damn old to still be identifying with this literary paragon of teen angst—which you can bet he does. Also like, anyone pretentious enough to dress as a 20th century literature character for Halloween is going to be pretentiously judging your costume, drink, music taste, and college degree. You don't need that.

The Non-Costume

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Anyone who wears one of those "this is my costume" t-shirts and still thinks he's clever in the 2016th year of our lord is not on your level, sweetheart. Get you a man who takes Halloween seriously.

All of the above is assuming you're already staying far away from the real asshats in racist (white dudes in sombreros) and transphobic (Caitlyn Jenner...ugh) costumes. Apart from those, Halloween is statistically proven to be the best holiday of the year, but also the thirstiest. Choose wisely, and let the costumes lead the way.