Minx Season 2 Is a Glorious Celebration of Sex, Drugs, and Women in Post-Cancellation Return

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Minx Season 2 Is a Glorious Celebration of Sex, Drugs, and Women in Post-Cancellation Return

Hugh Hefner is dead. Long live Joyce Prigger. 

Minx is the show that Euphoria—with all its full-frontal nudity, skimpy outfits, rampant nightlife, and glamorization of hard drugswants desperately to be, but just can’t reach that same caliber. A show that focuses on a highly successful erotic magazine for women in the 1970s is maybe not one that would immediately evoke a positive reaction en masse, but its unique premise and excellent acting and writing shine in another knockout season. 

Despite the move from Max to Starz, the series’ second outing is not very different from the first, at least on a base level—to its benefit. It still manages to uphold that seemingly-impossible balance of raunchy yet restrained that was introduced to us in Season 1, while elevating its various elements to new heights. Minx Season 2 doesn’t pick up exactly where last season left off, but it doesn’t leave viewers scrambling to fill in the gaps either. Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) and Doug (Jake Johnson) are still butting heads over who should be sitting at the head of the table—should it be one of them or an impartial party instead? Season 2 watches the masterminds behind Minx finally make a leadership decision and navigate the tricks and traps of the male-dominated women’s magazines landscape, all while dancing around the realities and relationships that await them at home. 

Joyce is uber-successful this season, and in a lesser show, she might have been made into a villain. However, as Season 2 explores the aftermath of the supernova she and Doug created, the series allows her to instead loosen up a bit… well, a lot, actually. She butts heads with Tina (Idara Victor) and Bambi (Jessica Lowe), two women who are caring to their core—and to a fault—but these three are never truly pitted against each other in the way that might be easiest to do. They are allowed to coexist and dislike each other sometimes, but they don’t cut each other down on purpose, either. 

In its second outing, Minx doubles down on its assertion that women don’t owe you anything—not now, but especially not then. And while Joyce is a little drunk on her own success this season, I still find myself rooting for her. Her and all the women on this show. Women do contain multitudes, and I appreciate that the creators of Minx (the show, not the fictional magazine) afford their female characters a long leash of credibility. That being said, Season 2 does finally dole out consequences to the ladies, which is an important thing to showcase. In the first season, Doug and his dumb decisions are largely the ones to blame, even if he wasn’t always entirely at fault. It is refreshing to see a man suffer the consequences of his actions, but it’s also nice to see that women are not perfectly immune, either. They are allowed to be real humans who make real mistakes. 

In addition to the focus on its leads in Joyce and Doug, Season 2 seeks to branch off from the two main protagonists and give precious screen time to its supporting characters. This includes the oft-underappreciated Bambi; Lennon Parham as Shelly, Joyce’s older sister; Tina, the smartest in the room; and Oscar Montoya as Richie, the free-spirited photographer. With numerous characters to contend with, each episode’s stunted runtime provides a risky time crunch into which to compress the rapidly evolving stories of its ensemble cast. Because of that, the series doesn’t linger too long on any one small story, if only because they all seamlessly blend together as the season progresses. Everyone is important this season, and every character is adamant in insisting that their contribution to the magazine is just as important as the rest. If unacknowledged, expect threats to walk. 

Additionally, as the fictional magazine and the people putting it out are up-and-comers in an up-and-coming cultural arts scene, it only makes sense to have a show set in the ‘70s includes some very real icons of the time. Incorporating real people into fictional shows is genuinely a difficult thing to do without misrepresenting them, and can also remove viewers from being totally immersed. Season 1 included a decent amount of highly famous and recognizable names (if not faces), but Season 2 practically triples it. Given the show’s self-aware sense of humor (and the series’ decades-long removal from the era it’s depicting), they get away with throwing celebrity after celebrity, and activist icon after famous writer at you every episode. 

While Season 2 has its pick of famous people, it fails to do much in the way of commenting on the very real cultural climate of the decade until the last two episodes. Feminism is of course at the front and center, but it’s very focused on white feminists; although this is realistic to some degree because white women were the only ones really even afforded a semblance of a voice at the time, it still fails to address characters like Shelly, Richie, and Tina, especially. 

Tina, as a Black woman who is essentially the glue that holds the entire team together at all times, is often pushed to the back burner until she has to grapple with some sort of conflict. She’s easily awarded all these accolades and job promotions, but the struggle behind her being both Black and a woman is never mentioned. Similarly, Richie, a gay Colombian man, seems to face no hurdles as the creative director, either; it is only in the penultimate episode when a conflict that affects him is introduced, but its effects and the aftermath are oddly glazed over in the next episode, and it’s not really mentioned again. 

As I mentioned is the case with shows like Euphoria, certain aspects like fully nude sex scenes and scenes in which characters are casually snorting a line are yet another difficult thing to master. Season 2 depicts the drug-addled craze of the ‘70s with grace, allowing its characters to get high and have fun in a casual way; it’s rampant, but it’s not too much. The writers could have addressed drug use a little more, seeing as the characters regularly dabble in it with little-to-no consequences, but perhaps this was the reality of the ‘70s (as a 2001 baby, I wouldn’t know).  

Like with its drugs-infused haze, there are even more explicit sex scenes throughout Season 2 when compared to its predecessor. They are raunchy, a bit in-your-face, and often abrupt and unexpected. The abruptness with which Minx throws sex scenes at its viewers is surely for the shock factor; watching a normal scene one moment before it suddenly cuts to a loud, brightly-lit orgy startled some jilted, nervous laughter from me on more than one occasion. Yet despite this, I do appreciate that the sex scenes are short-lived, and almost always favoring the female gaze. 

Minx may be about a type of Playboy ‘zine for women, but one thing I appreciate the most is the absence of unnecessary romance. The “miscommunication trope” is used well and not overdone, and always in a realistic way. Doug and Joyce are allowed to just be friends, be colleagues, without having to be in love with each other. The relationships and their inhabitants in this show are realistic and aid to ground the series in the midst of its frequent debauchery.

In Season 2, there are no “heroes” or “villains,” not in the traditional sense, and for this, I am entirely grateful. Nothing is over-the-top dramatic; it’s lighthearted but serious, and a joy to watch—while still reminding its viewers of the very real hurdles those of us who are not straight white men must jump over just to succeed in this world. In its grand return, Minx’s second season is a fantastic balancing act of epic proportions. 

Minx Season 2 premieres Friday, July 21st on Starz. 

Gillian Bennett is a writer and editor who has been featured in Strike Magazine, Her Campus, and now Paste Magazine. She enjoys watching copious reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and fantasizing about living in London. You can find more of her neverending inner monologue and online diary on her Twitter or her blog.

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.

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