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Actress and wellness guru Gwenyth Paltrow launches her new series, Sex, Love, and goop on Netflix Thursday, October 21st.
The series opens in aesthetically trendy goop HQ in Santa Monica, with the five highlighted couples sitting in a circle around Paltrow and intimacy expert Michaela Boehm. Albeit interspersed transitional clips of the discussion that takes place here, the meat and potatoes of content lie in the vulnerable and quite shocking sessions between couples and their assigned intimacy coaches.
The participants include five couples, all identifying with different demographics in terms of age, race, nationality, gender, and sexuality. The identity variation provided, coupled with the varying relationship struggles, provides the audience with new experiences as the series advances.
The drivers of the series are undoubtedly the so-called “practitioners,” or coaches, with expertise in different areas of intimacy and relationship building.
Jaiya describes herself as a “somatic sexologist” and works with “erotic blueprinting.” As Jaiya explains in episode 1, we all derive pleasures from different types of intimate interactions. From energetic, to kinky, to a shapeshifter, Jaiya has narrowed down specific types of pleasure that resonate differently with each of us. In her session, viewers can see this analysis applied as Jaiya assesses the clients. Additionally, through various forms of hands-on practice, viewers get an idea of how she curates a sort of individualized pleasure map if you will. In Sex, Love, and goop, Jaiya explores new areas of pleasure for her clients as her experience has taught, “there’s who we think we need to be as erotic beings, and then there’s who we really are as erotic beings.”
Michaela Boehm, resident intimacy expert also seen sharing conversations with Paltrow to guide the series, is considered the go-to expert for couples struggling to reignite their sexual spark. In her private session, viewers watch Boehm employ habit corrective and energy curation techniques to teach her clients how to tune into that passion that was once lost. Do you ever wish you could change a seemingly ingrained dynamic in your relationship? Boehm’s inventive process teaches couples to be intimacy entrepreneurs; she believes constant innovation in a relationship keeps the spark alive indefinitely, even if it was once lost.
Darshana Avila is listed as an erotic wellness coach. In her session, Avila is tasked with helping her clients gain confidence and expand their sexual repertoires in order to strengthen their sexual communication. As an individualized practice, Darshana locates the source of her clients coming into themselves as sexual beings. They discussed familial history with religion and its relationship to sex, specifically in a queer partnership like the one in question. Like many couples, Darshana’s clients share how their sex life is generally 0 or 100; Darshana teaches the ways in which to live in the 1 to 99.
The next intimacy coach is Amina Peterson, who addresses a mismatched level of sexual desire between her clients. From having the couple, both of whom are aged in their 60’s, crawl around acting like animals, to merely focusing on changes in breathwork, Peterson provides her client and viewers with a range of simple practices to empower themselves in and out of the bedroom.
Katarina “Kato” Wittich is, what is described as, a family constellations facilitator. This unique type of family therapy explores the development of familial inter-generational patterns, specifically those that the client prefers to live without. The practice involves other strangers, called “resonators,” used to represent members of the family of origin; clients can then physically see the patterns that led to them being who they are. For one client, Kato even employs a physical bag to represent passed-down grief. The “looking at the past” aspect of the session invites the participant to take on new perspectives that locate the origin of grief. Only looking backward can clients finally let go of what they thought were their own issues and fully accept the future with a clean slate.
Seeing as the wildly personal and revealing sessions are the series’ pull, I am drawn to question the promotion as a goop product. We know that goop is a wellness brand, yet what is the affiliation with this therapy? We are not taught much about the offerings of the brand in the series, so if you desire to learn the concrete operations of the elusive goop, a simple google search will provide you with more information. Goop was founded in 2008 and served as a newsletter to subscribers. Over time, the brand morphed to encompass what Gwen considered to fall in her definition of wellness: meditative resources, a clean skincare line, dietary practices, etc. Other than a few offerings, say, a line of furniture, Paltrow, and goop appear to provide specifically wellness-related suggestions to their audience. In January of 2020, goop and Netflix released The goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow, in which staff explored topics surrounding psychedelic drugs, Wim Hof’s cold therapy, female sexuality, anti-aging diets, “energy” healing, and communication with the dead. The goop lab was widely criticized, however, for its use of pseudoscience rather than following practices consistent with that of the traditional scientific method. While some believe goop dangerously promotes unsubstantiated health claims, others like Elisa Albert and Jennifer Blockof The New York Times, believe the hatred is wildly due to “patriarchal devaluation.” Regardless, The goop Lab crossed no scientific boundaries, as each episode is preceded by a disclaimer saying the series is “designed to entertain and inform — not provide medical advice.” Following its release, the episode about women’s sexual pleasure received a lot of positive feedback; the episode covers anatomy, body image, health, and autonomy in a frank and open manner. The affirmative support on this one episode most likely encouraged the goop team to begin the Sex, Love, and goop project.
Although the goop involvement in the production and promotion of Sex, Love, and goop is questionable, the actual content the series provides is vulnerable, eye-opening, and important. With observer Gwyneth serving as the audience representative, we are taken on a fly-on-the-wall journey through couples’ inner exploration. While watching, I find it important to acknowledge how uncomfortable and, for lack of a better term, voyeuristic the sessions appear at times. I found that letting myself audibly react and questioning where my discomfort originated encouraged me to relieve judgment and appreciate the representation of content.
At the most basic level, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to attend sex therapy, Sex, Love, and goop is for you. The five couples have placed themselves in an extremely vulnerable position to serve as role models for those struggling with feelings of despair in their relationships. With the aura of Netflix’s Sex Education and the editing mystique of Hulu’s 9 Perfect Strangers, Sex, Love, and goop, teaches us to step outside of our comfort zones because, as Paltrow sums up, it’s “extraordinary to realize just how much there is that we don’t know about who we really are as sexual beings.”
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About The Author:
Lily Block is a senior at the University of Wisconsin Madison, majoring in Economics with minors in Entrepreneurship, Digital Studies, and Photography. She is an intern at AfterBuzz TV and Better Together with Maria Menounos. Lily enjoys drag shows, etch-a-sketching, and all things reality tv!
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