Minx review – the joyful feminist porn comedy that proves 2022 is TV’s year of male nudity | Television & radio


After several prestigious but straight-faced 70s-set dramas, I have come to expect a more sombre tone from shows hovering around that era, but to my pleasant surprise Minx (Paramount+) is a total hoot. Ophelia Lovibond plays Joyce, an earnest liberal arts college graduate attempting to get a radical feminist magazine off the ground in California in the early 1970s, where the ties are big, the collars are bigger, and the sideburns are truly outrageous.

Outrage plays its own part in Minx, whether it’s the characters stoking the flames of controversy, or the show itself. For some mysterious reason, Joyce fails to find a backer for her furiously political magazine, The Matriarchy Awakens, despite telling the publishers of successful women’s glossies that their diets-and-romance agenda is not the future. “Why is she so angry?” says one businessman among a sea of many businessmen. (The gender balance of the advertising and publishing industries here makes Mad Men look like a feminist utopia.)

Along comes the genial Doug (Jake Johnson), an earthy publisher of titillating mags with titles such as B-Cup Babes and Bodacious Butts. Doug likes Joyce’s moxie, if not quite her buttoned-up approach, and his centrefold models have found the dummy issues of The Matriarchy Awakens gripping and thought-provoking. Doug has his own ideas about what the future looks like. He also thinks that women in 1971 are in the market for more than diets and romance. Much more, in fact. How about he funds a publication edited by Joyce, in which she can wrap her political writing around a “magazine of knobs”?

My, are there knobs. What with Pam and Tommy imbuing Tommy Lee’s penis with the power of speech, and Euphoria introducing a relative chorus line of cocks, this has been quite the year for full frontal male-nudity, and in the end it’s no surprise that a comedy about making a porn mag for straight women should have a healthy attitude towards what it shows, and what it doesn’t. Thankfully, there’s no, ahem, beating around the bush. It would have been odd if there had been.

Minx is brisk and bouncy and very enjoyable, with each 30-minute episode careering around with a pleasingly bulldozer-ish attitude towards comedy. Slapstick and tickle, if you will. Joyce has a stuffy boyfriend, quickly ditched, who represents the wealthy tennis club side of her life, while you get the sense that Doug and the rest of the team at Bottom Dollar Publications have had to pull their privileges together from nothing. The chemistry between Joyce and Doug is excellent, and Lovibond and Johnson, resplendent in their 70s gear, give the impression of having a great time with it all. It brings together a solid team, too, from Joyce’s enthusiastic sister Shelly, to the sweet centrefold and “centrefold coordinator” Bambi, to secretary Tina, who gives the impression of being a woman who will, inevitably, end up running the world.

Doug is the most likable character here, the wise svengali, present at every turn to let Joyce know which decisions she should make, and why. “I’m the only one who sees what you can do,” he tells her. Without wishing to go too The Matriarchy Awakens about it, a lot of time in the opening two episodes is spent making sure that Joyce knows her place, which is funny, given how much time is also spent discussing dismantling the patriarchy. The show gets away with it, just about, because Joyce represents a certain kind of idealist, well-meaning but clueless to the real world, and you hope that in later episodes Doug has lessons to learn, too.

Some of the ideas here are familiar. There’s a sleazy old bore at the country club, those sexist businessmen in suits, catcalling builders, an uptight ex-boyfriend who decries Joyce’s new role as “the porn queen of Pasadena”. It finds humour in Joyce’s priggishness, as she attempts to get her male models in the mood by reading them Anaïs Nin. And there are appealing surreal streaks, too – a dream involving Gloria Steinem and rotten tomatoes, and talking ads on the wall, selling whiskey and “Yum-derwear”, which are, Joyce contests, “an affront to all womankind”.

But it’s Lovibond and Johnson’s performances that lift the show and, along with its contagious sense of joy, make it very moreish indeed. It operates with broad brushstrokes, but I’m not complaining; sometimes it can be a relief to watch a series that is mostly just trying to be funny. “It comes across as shouty … you gotta hide the medicine,” Doug advises Joyce. I’m not sure Minx is hiding much, least of all its medicine, but I will happily devour what it has to offer.