'Minx' Gets Bigger, Deeper and More Confident in Its Stellar Second Dive Into 70s Porn for Women
Smart, raunchy, astute and funny, this empowering series about a feminist erotic magazine is still a must-see in season two.
July 26, 2023
When it debuted in 2022 with a full-frontal embrace of feminism, penises and 70s porn for women, Minx instantly cemented itself among the year's best new TV shows. The setup: Vassar graduate and country club regular Joyce Prigger (Ophelia Lovibond, Trying) makes her dream of starting her own magazine come true, but for Bottom Dollar Publications pornography publisher Doug Renetti (Jake Johnson, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse). Created by Ellen Rapoport (Clifford the Big Red Dog) and executive produced by Paul Feig (Last Christmas), the show wasn't shy about the industry it dived into, even if its protagonist initially was. It wasn't afraid to push the strait-laced Joyce out of her comfort zone, see the empowering side of erotica for the fairer sex and champion the female gaze, either. The end result: a savvy, smart and breezy series that was as layered as it was astute and funny — and, yes, one that happily filled its frames with male genitalia.
It took mere months for Minx to score a season-two renewal, and welcomely; however, the path from that great news to the show's second go-around arriving — from Friday, July 21 on Stan in Australia — bears more than a little in common with the attitudes that the series rallies against. Originally made by HBO Max, HBO's US streaming service, Minx was then cancelled in December 2022 during production. Underestimating the appeal of something confident and unashamedly raunchy where women are in control? Yes, that's what this casualty of David Zaslav's cost-cutting measures at Warner Bros Discovery demonstrated. Luckily, fellow American network Starz then stepped in. Watching Minx's bigger, richer and deeper second season, it's mindboggling to think that it almost didn't make it to screens.
"Minx is back and better than ever," announces Doug with his usual likeable, affable, shambling brand of swagger — the kind that Johnson long-perfected in New Girl, and also in film roles in Drinking Buddies and Win It All — and he isn't wrong. Of course, he's talking about the series' eponymous erotic mag, not the series itself, but he's on the money. First, though, the again vibrantly shot, styled and costumed show has season-one finale fallout to deal with, after Joyce and Doug ended their tumultuous working relationship. The former goes looking for a new publisher, with boardrooms overflowing with besuited men dropping compliments and promising money awaiting. Then billionaire and ex-shipping industry titan Constance Papadopoulos (Elizabeth Perkins, The Afterparty) shows an interest in the magazine, in supporting and mentoring Joyce, and in having Doug involved.
Decades of TV sitcoms and procedural dramas have spent episode after episode testing their characters with problems, then restoring the status quo before the credits roll and the next instalment arrives. Minx falls into neither genre, nor that trap. Joyce and Doug were always destined to reteam as colleagues early in season two, but this series doesn't go backwards. There's a new dynamic at play with Joyce leading the charge, Constance pushing for growth and Doug attempting to find his best new angle. (Some ideas: hosting a screening of Deep Throat, international expansion and taking the mag from the page to reality Chippendales-style.) There's another case of mirroring, too, this time firmly within the show; the world at large navigates sexual freedom and the women's liberation movement, and Joyce and Doug endeavour to work out what that truly means for them, and also what they want it to.
Egos and ambitions still clash, and the naked male form remains a frequent and ample presence, but Minx has evolved from a fledgling enterprise to a success both on- and off-screen. Within the series, that sees Joyce, Doug, Constance and the returning magazine staff — namely Bottom Dollar's former model Bambi (Jessica Lowe, Miracle Workers), photographer Richie (Oscar Montoya, Final Space), Doug's girlfriend and ex-secretary Tina (Idara Victor, Shameless), and Joyce's sister Shelly (Lennon Parham, Veep) — try to grasp what their ideal version of a popular, well-known, boundary-pushing Minx is. Making a splash sparks expectations and fame. It deepens the challenges and compromises. And it brings attention, competitors and the potential for bigger losses with bigger risk.
Minx season two backdrops the workplace chaos — because yes, this is a workplace-set series as much as fellow 2022-debuting aces Severance and The Bear — with familiar historical details. Deep Throat is just the beginning, with Joyce profiled by Rolling Stone and enjoying a fling with a musician, and references to Gloria Steinem and Annie Leibovitz popping up. The Battle of the Sexes match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs gets the men and women of the office competing themselves (including by swinging tennis racquets in an unorthodox way). Key parties get a shoutout via Shelly's new arc, which is playfully introduced via an errant earring spotted on her bedroom floor. That stray piece of jewellery does belong to another woman, but because Shelly has embraced suburban swinging with her dentist husband Lenny (Mad Men alum Rich Sommer). That isn't the only way that she's exploring herself sexually, and not just by reigniting her dalliances with Bambi, either.
Joyce and Doug earn much of Minx's spotlight again, spending plenty of their time clashing and bickering as they learn and grow, but season two realises how strong the series is as an ensemble effort. There wasn't a disappointing performance among the key cast in season one, which the show leans into more heartily. Not just Shelly but also Bambi, Richie and Tina receive meaty arcs — with Bambi, now Bottom Dollar's Chief Fun Officer, wanting to be valued for more than her looks; Richie campaigning to service Minx's queer male readers but receiving homophobic responses; and Tina striving to be seen for her business acumen, not her trusty place at Doug's side. And, not just the excellent scene- and show-stealing Parham but also Lowe, Montoya and Victor turn in weighty portrayals to match.
Surveying shifting gender dynamics as well as the complicated media landscape, Minx also knows that it's peering back to the past while pointing out what has and hasn't changed today. Sometimes, it's as direct as a centrefold, as witnessed when Joyce is invited onto a panel with other editors of female-centric publications, most of them are male and those men expect her to fight with the only other woman onstage. Sometimes, it builds slowly and steadily for just as spectacular an outcome, including as it widens its focus. Season two's only real issue: eight episodes doesn't feel like enough. Wanting more of a great thing? Now there's a very Minx problem.
Check out the trailer Minx season two below:
Minx season two streams via Stan.
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