Bish review of sex education in TV and film

TV Review – The Joy of Teen Sex Review S2 E1

Team Bish member Tom Beasley reviews The Joy of Teen Sex

Read his blog here.

I’ve always found The Joy Of Teen Sex amusing. It’s like the lairy, drunk cousin of The Sex Education Show. Whilst The Sex Education Show is all about imparting knowledge to teenagers and busting sexual myths, The Joy Of Teen Sex is a TV version of the problem page in a teen magazine.

The first shots of the show are provocative shots of wandering hands and shifting underwear, titillating the viewer into the knowledge that this is a very different beast to other teen sex shows: this one is championing genital-on-genital action.

Early sequences are lead by sound bites of members of the public being asked questions and trading sexual anecdotes, including one who used the phrase “going down on a girl in the morning is like pulling apart a cheese toastie”. Now I don’t know about you, but a show that can broadcast something like that without any further explanation is clearly not quite taking the issue as seriously as they should.

The main idea behind The Joy Of Teen Sex is to provide teenagers with advice to help them get past their sexual problems. It’s an admirable concept, in theory and indeed some of the advice does help the teenagers out, especially in the few genuinely interesting segments when the show focuses on the emotional side of relationships rather than the physicality.

However, there is a mild creepiness to the fact that they give the advice from a series of strangely-furnished lounges rather than an actual consultation room à la Embarrassing Bodies. For my money, they should definitely not be laid out on a sofa whilst discussing these kinds of issues. It just adds to my belief that The Joy Of Teen Sex doesn’t quite take itself seriously enough.

It doesn’t help that the advice given is very odd indeed. This week, they tried to solve a guy’s dislike of giving oral sex to his girlfriend by giving him a strange device that was like a surgical mask and referring to it as a “mouth condom”. If he went down on his partner like that, it would look like he was terrified her vagina had swine flu.

But this is nothing when compared to my least favourite section of The Joy Of Teen Sex. For some reason that I find completely unfathomable, the show feels the need to display graphic footage of how to perform various sexual positions. This is clearly designed to be wank-fodder for the “up past their bedtime” younger end of the audience and seems to serve no educational purpose whatsoever.

In more positive news, Billie JD Porter is back. In the first series and in this first episode of the second, my favourite part of the show is her investigative segments. She is brilliantly deadpan notwithstanding the rather horrific events unfolding around her and she is completely unflinching in speaking her mind, which is really valuable when discussing the difficult issues that her pieces deal with: this week, the promiscuity of young Brits when holidaying abroad. I really admire how Billie puts herself right in the centre of everything so that she can provide the best reports. I would quite happily listen to a whole show based on her reports, rather than dealing with the bizarre advice segments.

But mercifully, we don’t get much of any of this because The Joy Of Teen Sex suffers from the same problem as The Sex Education Show in that it spends so much time telling us what just happened and what’s coming up next that it doesn’t actually have time for any programme.

Nonetheless, it is a promising start to the series for The Joy Of Teen Sex and any show that contains the line “I rock the cock!” surely can’t be all bad.


Justin Hancock

Justin Hancock, writer/editor of BISH. I've been a sex and relationships educator since 1999. I'm a trained sexual health trainer and a qualified youth worker. I've worked with thousands of young people in person: in sexual health clinics, schools, and youth projects. My advice has also featured in leading newspapers in the UK and my work has been written about and referred to by several academics, journalists and writers.