|Index||10 reviews in total|
After viewing the 1st season of this series, I say, "Bravo to Brave "Bliss"! for: a) giving female producers, writers and directors the rare opportunity to create a series from a female point of view b) for bravely navigating through the volatile territory of female erotic fantasy to create six, well crafted short films (beautiful production design & lensing, deft directing). What I find most powerful about the series is it's indisputably provocative ability to raise questions about the complex themes of attraction, seduction, desire, love, commitment, betrayal, loss, sexual identity -- regardless of whether a viewer may find the characters sympathetic or not, situations relatable, or not, the sex titillating/teasing or displeasing to the senses -- all of which is a purely subjective response - a series that can elicit powerful response, I believe is successful. Here Bliss has succeeded. I found each story to be compellingly unique - as a richly layered unfolding in a sense of unpredictable mystery. I much appreciated the moments of motivational ambiguity, emotional tentativeness, which served to heighten the humanness of the characters in terms of how fragile and brave it can be to move from desire into action/seduction. How important it is, to allow women to give voice to their explorations of sexual desire and fantasy. Bravo Bliss, for doing so. I look forward to the next season.
You would never think, from watching "Bliss", that sex could ever
be fun, or make people laugh. The characters in "Bliss" may sleep
with each other out of revenge or some other primal need, to
scratch an itch or to beat back profound loneliness, but never just
for the fun of it. While people do have sex for the above reasons,
this hardly makes "Bliss" the ground-breaking erotica series that
its creators wanted. For a start, it is far too limited in scope. While
three of the six stories deal with lesbian themes, several involve
cheating and one involves a woman who likes rough sex, there are
none with s&m or bondage (which seems a bit odd if this series is
supposed to be riding the edge), or any number of even more
liminal practices. There is precisely one major non-white
character, who gets maybe five minutes of screen time. Also, the
women get their kit off a lot more than the men, considering that
this is supposed to be women's erotica. Conversely, the men are
treated like meat--or worse yet, like living sex toys. Most of the
characters are urban, and most of the female characters are, to be
frank, unlikeable. The cinematography, as well, is washed out. I'd
rather become a nun than live in the depressing, blue-gray world
of this series.
The two best entries in the series--"In Praise of Drunkenness and Fornication" and "Guys and Dolls"--also contain the only sympathetic major characters over the age of thirty. The first story, about couple-swapping, works because the four main characters are awkward but engaging. Unlike their younger counterparts in the other stories, they worry about the consequences of their actions. They care about something besides their own physical needs--namely, will they still all be friends in the morning. "Guys and Dolls" works simply because its male lead, Peter Wingfield, surmounts the cliche of his character, George, and converts what appears to be considerable directorial humiliation into fuel for George's ironic malaise. That's what happens, I suppose, when you get one of the best character actors in Canada on board and then mess with his head.
While I found this an interesting experiment, I sincerely hope that "Bliss" does not reflect the totality of women's fantasies out there. Because if it does, then ladies, we are in trouble.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to agree with the thesnowleopard that Bliss takes itself a bit too seriously. I've seen a few episodes on Oxygen Network here in the US. One episode I can recall, "The Marvellon" features a younger lesbian who seduces an older one......who was a bit repressed and had a harpy girlfriend. Then there is the famous farmhand episode, where rancher's wife turns adulteress while her boring or uptight husband is in the hospital. Another episode features a woman (ignored by her busy husband and henceforth feeling the blues) who sleeps with the man who comes to tune her piano. It seems going by the episodes I've seen that Bliss is a bit formulaic. 1. Woman strolls around in a funk due to loneliness or crappy man in her life. 2. Funk is broken by hot sexual encounter. 3. Conclusion. Couple glow in aftermath of tryst. Sometimes show ends on high note. Often ends on ambivalent note as woman has to go back to her boring or loveless life. All in all not quite depressing, but something of a bleak show. It usually begins on a dour note.
I thought the story was okay. It didn't really thrill me. This woman
into a hotel to get help because the taxi drove away with her bag and
briefcase. She slowly realizes the hotel is a pick up place for men and
women. The good looking British man makes a move on her, and for some
reason, she follows him into a hotel room. They have hot sex. The
pays the woman some money and they have a weekly "date" in the same
To the woman's surprise, she meets this man in her office, he is actually
client of her firm! They meet again and the man tells her that he's
actually in love with his wife, but just that he needs something more,
as a sexual forbidden thrill on the side. He wants to leave the
relationship with this woman, but the woman stops him. She said she will
"pay" for his services from now on. As the story ends, the audience
that this man and this woman are going to continue meeting at the
Can a woman and a man just have casual sex without feeling anything else for the relationship? According to the show, yes, they can. Do we really believe that? I don't know. It's a nice fantasy. It's even nicer when the handsome British man is played by Peter Wingfield! Never thought he'd look so damn good in the nude! Mr. Wingfield, if you ever read this, you have nothing to be ashamed of, your body is terrific and your sex scenes add alot to a rather threadbare story.
Anyone who is a Peter Wingfield hardcore fan will really like this episode. This is the most sensual Peter Wingfield I've ever seen!
I give the story a "C" and all the actors an "A".
I don't usually bother to contribute comments like this, but I have to say that I disagree with most of the user comments about this show. Like many others, I tuned in to "Bliss" because I was intrigued by the prospect of erotica by, for, and about women. And, much to my delight, it totally delivers. I've now seen all of the second season and most of the first, including "Guys and Dolls," which is a beautiful episode, both cinematically and plot-wise. For those who enjoy the vibe of "Guys and Dolls," keep an eye out for "Three," which is part of the second season. It's my favourite episode so far and it's directed by the same woman who did "Guys and Dolls." In all, this is smart, beautifully done series. There should be more like it.
this show , although predictable, and barely shows nudity, does something that even movies have barely done nowadays.....stimulate the imagination.....if you want a stimulating program, this is your show....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a review specifically of the Bliss episode, "Guys and Dolls" and
about its contents. If you have not seen the episode and wish to and
prefer not to know the story ahead of time, please do not read
I am a diehard Peter Wingfield fan, an admirer of his work from the British series 'Medics' right through to 'X-Men', even though his acting outshone the vehicle in almost all cases. There was so much palaver about Bliss when it first aired that when it showed up on a channel that I actually get - last night - I broke down and watched it, even though I had promised myself that I would never do that because I would never be able to look Peter in the eye having seen him naked. On the other hand, it is part of his body of work (no pun intended) and though he may ultimately have regretted doing it - see his own comments in the Toronto Star about being treated by the woman director and the actress like so much meat, and invisible meat at that - it wasn't for the nudity, which, to quote him, becomes 'another wrench in your toolbox'. I watched it as a PW fan but I observed it as a writer. And that is where the failing is. I suspected that something billed as 'by women, for women' and 'women exploring their erotic fantasies' would to be a disaster. It was. The writing is garbage. And if that is for me, as a woman, keep it.
This is what I jotted down immediately after seeing it:
Okay, so I've seen it. What was all the fuss about? The George character I understand completely; Laura is a passive-aggressive failure as a character and entirely unlikeable. What I don't understand is why she is supposed to be sympathetic while he is a shmuck. Wow.
a) She walks into that hotel and she should be in a monumental flap. The cabbie just drove off with her laptop on his back seat!!!!! Yow! She is now out every file that's on it, all the information about her business, all her email PLUS her purse and the cost of the laptop. (And why she ever stepped out of that cab in the first place is absolutely beyond me! Nobody in their right mind would do such a thing.) Not to mention that she would be feeling angry and violated at having just been robbed. (Believe me; that's how you feel.) That is major trouble. And yet she walks into a hotel and she notices the erotic statues?- which weren't all that erotic anyway - or did I get it wrong and she accidentally walked into a brothel? Gimme a break. She would have gone to the desk, got on the phone to the police, the taxi company, a friend to come get her. a whole lot of other things on her mind. Oh, I forgot. She still had her cell phone in her hand, so what was she going into that hotel for anyway? (The problem would have been quite easy to fix and I don't know why they went with this.) In the taxi, she was portrayed as having that type of obsessive/aggressive personality which wouldn't have let her rest until she'd got it back and seen the cabbie hung,
drawn and quartered! And she wouldn't have asked for coffee; she'd have gone for a double Scotch! She's two different people right off the bat and I didn't buy it. And I didn't get the connection with the cherubs. Was this supposed to mean she was in some kind of den of iniquity? Glory be! A brothel might decorate itself like that but not a classy hotel. Didn't work for me A-tall!
She accepts the proposal - very unenthusiastically - and they go to his room. (Now, that in itself is not how it's done. If she were in the business, she would be taking him to her room. Presumably she sees herself as a call-girl rather than a streetwalker. Only a street pick-up goes wherever the trick wants to go.) In the room, George tells her he doesn't want to know her name or anything about her - this isn't a romance, after all. Afterward, he leaves her an envelope with money and suggests they make it twice a week. The relationship goes on for a while but one day they both show up to the same business meeting and the jig is up. The next appointment, George is understandably late - I wondered why he showed up at all - and tells her that he loves his wife and that he wants to end it. She turns into a shrieking harpie and excoriates him with a 'don't-you- dare-leave-me-you-jerk' speech that had me boggled. When he seems skeptical, she makes a dive for the bulge in his pants that wasn't there (that's a privacy patch for you!) and he acquiesces. End of episode.
b) The theme of this thing is supposed to be that she realizes he wants a prostitute and she plays along with it. That's not how it played. If she was going to go that route, she would have started playing the part in the bar. The way it's written, this gung-ho-business-woman-of-the-world doesn't know what she's walked into or what he's asking for? Either she's no innocent and was playing dumb (which doesn't work) or she's no hard-headed businesswoman - they tend to know about these things. She has just been screaming at some business partner on the phone and now she's playing the coy innocent? The character simply doesn't work. Whoever wrote this is guessing how this would go down; I have to wonder if she's ever been in a bar, let alone noticed men picking up ladies of the night!
c) The nude scenes were pretty mild. Have you seen Cronenberg's 'Crash'? I don't think Peter should worry about his image with that performance. Nice ass. I noticed something that I've never seen commented on. Peter did that like a man who not only really likes sex - and women - but is used to making love to a woman he loves. He did that like a man making love to his wife, not like some guy getting his rocks off with a streetwalker. I don't know if that was deliberate but I suspect it was. George is in love with his wife. That's what Peter portrayed. George wasn't having casual, illicit sex for the naughty thrill; he was making love - to his wife. I suspect that was one of those things that Peter does for those who get it. I got it. Hated his hair. Jenny Levine's rather wooden and very bitchy performance, however, left me completely cold.
Considering the huge fuss over it, I expected a half hour of non-stop T & A.
As usual, the 'act' wasn't believable. No way he could have been inside her with her in that position - she'd be up on her knees, which is hardly graceful. And when she supposedly made a grab for him through his pants in that last scene, she was looking for it in the wrong place. Better not to pretend with something you really can't show. All in all, that didn't measure up as 'erotic'. The only reaction I had was to Peter's portrayal of a man who was, in his mind at least, making love to his wife, and the reaction wasn't physical -- I felt like an intruder. And there's nothing wrong with me!
d) And good Lord but that was a HUGE amount of money! There must have been a thousand bucks in that envelope and he's supposed to come across with this twice a week? And I'm supposed to think that he thinks she's worth it? Why? Because she has nice 'attributes'? She certainly didn't DO anything for her money! Boy, somebody's fantasies were working overtime. I doubt you'd have to blow anywhere near that much for something much classier in Toronto.
The other thing that I noticed was that although she was supposed to be playing the whore, HE made love to HER, when the whole idea of paying for it is for her to make love to him. And for this he paid her a thousand bucks??? So she could lie there like a log looking sour? He definitely did not get his thousand bucks' worth! She might have at least pretended she was enjoying it - or smiled. I was gobsmacked when he wanted more. No man I know would want more of that.
e) What on earth was that ending all about? He told her where he was at with it and she responded by turning into a shrieking harpie! Laura's quite vicious expression was a 'don't-you-dare-leave-me-you-jerk' look. And I'm supposed to believe either that he was moved by what she said enough to stay or that he was so shallow that a quick grab to the crotch was all it took to change his mind? Even Peter couldn't pull that one out of the toilet. And how was he supposed to feel after he realized she's a 'successful business woman' and yet took his money? And kept it? This woman has the moral fortitude of a cockroach! Having a little illicit nooky is a normal urge; being a liar and profiting by it - and seeing nothing wrong with that - isn't. And going the passive/ aggressive route to get her own way was a total turn-off. I hated her. And believe me, that does not appeal to men.
f) It was very obvious that the writer was a woman, a woman with no real life experience and who was doing her own 'erotic fantasy' thing. Boy, was it a fantasy!!! Whoever wrote this travesty should have got her butt out of her suburban kitchen long enough to know how these things really work. The writer, the director and the actress all botched this one.
And this was the best of the lot? [heavy groan] I won't bother to watch the rest. Besides, it comes on opposite Farscape and it's strictly 'no contest' there!
I'm disturbed by a consistent theme in so-called 'erotic' stories by women - the female character is either a wilting violet/victim or a passive/aggressive unlovable horror. The thing which is never there is genuine love or respect for men. And that is a great shame.
Another consistent theme in the 'by-women-for-women' genre is equally worrisome: the man makes love to them while they just lie there. George does all the work on 'Guys and Dolls', although he is allowed his moment. Big deal. Ladies, sex is warm, comforting, good for you and beats the hell out of doing it yourself. It is NOT all up to him! You do NOT just lie there. This was the whole point of the sexual liberation of women, not that they were free to get it anywhere any time, but that they were allowed to like it, to participate in it. While not losing sight of the real problems of sexuality and its unfettered expression, THIS is the theme that needs to be in women's erotica, love of men, enjoyment of sex, not a continuation of the puritannical fears and hatreds that have made the male/ female relationship of the past century so horrendous. That is the only sensible goal, the one which will be truly fulfilling - a genuine fantasy. And this is where Bliss fails completely.
I stumbled upon this series by accident while channel surfing. As the
Oxygen Network plays it on late Sunday nights, I don't always get the
opportunity to watch. The series is entertaining, even though there are
times it strains credibility. Most of the stories are shallow, in spite
of the occasional attempts at character development, and they're not
that hard to predict. Though the series is supposed to be for a female
audience, men will certainly enjoy it. The episode regarding a lesbian
historical boutique owner and her butch younger girlfriend entertained
me, but I don't know if straight women would enjoy such a thing. On the
whole, "Bliss" is a fun time-filler for hard-up insomniacs.
Probably the best episode is "Six Days", in which the beautiful yet authentic Anna (Michelle Duquet), an unhappily married farmer's wife is left alone on the farm after her annoying bore of a husband Jake (Paul Stewart) suffers an accident that temporarily incapacitates him. So she finds someone to help her keep up the farm while he recovers. Of course, Mike (Callum Keith Rennie), the man who volunteers to work for her, is nice-looking and virile. And it's obvious what they'll do once they've been alone for a few days. Yet the story works just the same. We see the alienated wife and the loner farm hand connect as people, not just genders or bodies. It's clear that both are not trusting people. He has moved from place to place since leaving home, while she's never been out of her hometown even though she's never liked living there, yet they're both drawn to each other for the same reasons. So when they smile and laugh together, there's a real sense of release and fulfillment. It's almost as much about the effects of loneliness as it as about sex. The actors get much of the credit, yet they work with the story. The only weakness of the story is, why did Anna marry Jake in the first place, not only because he's so much older than her, but because he's such an exasperating personality? But in the end, it doesn't matter.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watch this show on Fridays on Showcase Canada and my favorite episode is "Leaper" in which Julie, a writer hit writers block and calls up a friend and ends up hanging up on the person. She later goes out and runs into a homeless person and Julie gives her some money and the woman attacks Julie. Later, at a café Julie recovers from her writer's block and someone makes moves on her, Julie sees the homeless person again and the person runs away and kills herself. Julie's admirer,whose name is Diane or Dionne takes Julie to her apartment and then Diane starts to really show that she is interested in Julie and then Julie and Diane end up having sex. Julie wakes up the next day and spots something very familiar, a candy wristband and Diane approaches Julie and confesses to knowing the homeless person, Julie is standing there dumbfounded and wearing only her thong, quickly gets dressed and flees.
My 2 favorite episodes would have to be "Aural Sex" featuring Raven Dauda as a sexually experimenting girlfriend from the 1st season and Petit Mots,the episode featuring Patricia McKenzie as a nightclub DJ who falls for a bookstore owner who is very content working and living in his bookstore(shown on Oxygen in US on 3-22-04 at 12am).Those 2 women are very lovely,I must say,but more women of color(esp. Afro-Canadian women)need to be featured characters on this show,as to show more Americans that Canada is quite diverse and has beautiful Afro-Canadian women.Having 2 lesbian women of color featured in an episode would be good,too.Also,in those 2 episodes,for example,the only thing close to a private part shown is the buttocks of the male lead.How about at least showing a female lead's buttocks and/or breasts(esp. during aforementioned 2 episodes)more.The 1st sex scene in "Petit Mots" was ok,but needed more of a glimpse of the woman's panties,at least,while 2nd sex scene should've ended w/both parties nude.Also,in "Aural Sex",a full body frontal(and/or back shot)should've been shown of the female lead,at least while she was only wearing red panties.This show has potential to do better,but has overall let me down so far.
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