The Joy of Teen Sex (2011– )

TV Series  -  Reality-TV
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With the help of experienced professionals,volunteered teens discuss matters of their sex life,resolving problems & learn the latest ways to improve. There is also a segment where a certain... See full summary »

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Title: The Joy of Teen Sex (2011– )

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Season:

2 | 1

Year:

2011
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With the help of experienced professionals,volunteered teens discuss matters of their sex life,resolving problems & learn the latest ways to improve. There is also a segment where a certain matter is approached throughout each episode by a girl. Written by Nicolas Velidis

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The Joy of Teen Sex
10 February 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Two points: 1) Yes, Channel 4 really has made a show called 'The Joy of Teen Sex'. But following 'The Sex Education Show', does anything really shock you? 2) Whatever else, make sure to record this show beforehand and watch it on x6 with subtitles; x2 minimum.

My third point would be: don't watch it at all. No-one seems to have taken heed. Immediately upon seeing the title, I texted my teenage friend. "Yes, I've already seen it," she replied. "And the new 'Embarrassing Bodies'." There's a new 'Embarrassing Bodies'? They're still making that? Really? How many more people can there be whose bodily embarrassment is so excruciating that they are prepared to parade their poontang on national television? But someone explained the ruse to me: 'Embarrassing Bodies' offers all of its patients free treatment. Free consultations and boob jobs and tummy tucks.

The problem with 'The Joy of Teen Sex' is that no-one here needs any real treatment. Sure, sure, someone needs advice on contraception. Someone thinks they may be allergic to semen. Some girl is worried she's boring in bed. Some feckless sod is paranoid about the size of his penis. The nearest we get to a crisis is a happy-go-lucky reveller getting an AIDS test, and because this is 'The Joy of Teen Sex' and not 'Rebus' it obviously comes back negative. This show has less drama than the third act of a Shakespearean comedy.

And my underlying suspicion is that 90% of the kids involved are in it for the laugh. I watched the first four episodes back-to-back on my DVR; the longer it went on the more farcical it became. A mother and daughter turned up for a lesson in sexual positions. A spotty kid wanted clarification on whether or not he was still a virgin (he was). Some chick's boyfriend claimed to have a phobia of vaginas. His prescription - if it can be so described - was to make a plaster cast of his girlfriend's vulva ('vagina' was used incorrectly throughout this segment) and then take it home with him as if he'd won a Blue Peter Badge.

At regular junctures in each episode, 'The Joy of Teen Sex' inserts a sprinkling of vox pops. Cutaways to vox pops are always a sound indicator that a programme has run out of ideas, and this is no exception, treating us to a salvo of otherwise sensible people saying luridly sexual things that you have probably never heard on mainstream TV before, nor ever cared to hear.

The leading light within this carnival of crassness, our doyenne of debauchery, is Billie, the show's teenage journalist. Billie's journalistic credentials comprise a scowling demeanour and Generic Uni Accent. Billie is a hot mess: think four parts Peaches Geldof mixed with one part Ke$ha. And include the dollar sign when you do that. At most I would guess her as 19, 18 - learned and wise by 'Teen Sex' standards. Billie invests her every glance and movement with a sort of world-weary disdain. She's angry about something, but no-one ever thinks to interview the interviewer. Sometimes we glean passing insights into her backstory, and on one extraordinary occasion she strips down to her bra for a 'glamour' photographer (read: leering old codger). "You didn't look like you were enjoying it," he says afterwards. And she wasn't.

But she gets some crappy gigs, does Billie. Investigating online porn, investigating teenage swingers. Investigating herbal sex drugs: "Everyone was having a good time, except me," she muses in the taxi back to the studio, unwittingly writing her epitaph. She is a profound study in melancholy and isolation, and deserves more screen time.

The rest of Teen Sex's crew are a mixed bag. One is a bona-fide doctor of the 'Embarrassing Bodies' school, the other two are Gillian McKeith-esque charlatans who look an episode away from unemployment.

In the end, two things occur to me about this show. The first is that, in spite of Channel 4's commitment to topical, progressive and unabashedly explicit sex-ed programming, this particular format is very old-hat. The Internet and its endless stream of nudity and amateur cunnilingus and Wikipedia ejaculation videos and puberty forums moderated by 13 year-olds, every sordid bit of it has long-since rendered the concept of a TV sex-education show obsolete. Sex and information about sex are more widely available than ever and teenagers know it. 'The Joy of Teen Sex' imagines that, irrespective of its comparative tameness, the very fact of it being on TV lends it credibility above and beyond the web. And that exemplifies old-media arrogance.

Secondly, even the advice on offer here isn't particularly instructive. The consultations are quickly dispensed with, the people with genuine body-image concerns shuffled off screen with tacky video montages and assurances from the narrator that everyone will live happily ever after. The guides to oral and anal sex and virginity are facile and irrelevant. It's all a knowing sham, coyly playing doctor with a smirking, pseudo-academic giggle.

By the way - if you were hoping for more college-girl nudity, look elsewhere. 'Teen Sex' is a major blip in form for Channel 4. There is no University of Birmingham hockey team. No locker-room strip. No Izzy Fullwood. Crikey.


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