[14 December 2009]
It is not easy to place the Canadian series Show Me Yours within a familiar television genre. The show’s publicists call it a “dramedy”. Because of its sexual theme and content, Show Me Yours has also been referred to as a “sexcom”. The difficulty with either of these terms is that each promises comedy. In this regard Show Me Yours fails to deliver.
Show Me Yours might be more aptly labeled “daytime porn” or a “sex opera”. On some level, Show Me Yours feels a bit like daytime drama—although it has far fewer story lines and lacks the histrionics that make soap operas so alluring. The show’s treatment of sex, on the other hand, is much like the soft-core fare one might see at night on the American cable network Cinemax (affectionately known as “Skinemax”). Due to this seeming mix of genres, deciding on just the right time of day to settle in with the Show Me Yours DVDs might prove vexing.
Show Me Yours first debuted in 2004 on Canada’s Showcase network, and ran for two seasons that include 16 episodes. Rachel Crawford stars as psychologist turned sex writer, Kate Langford. Dr. Benjamin Chase (Adam Harrington) is a biologist who studies animal mating rituals. Ben has just been hired by Kate’s publisher to co-write Kate’s book. Kate’s boyfriend, David Exley (Jeff Seymour) is a best-selling author and academic who specializes in male aggression. Together, these three learned individuals form a love triangle completely devoid of chemistry or passion. Apparently, the creators of Show Me Yours buy into the stereotype that people with PhDs are dull and boring.
Show Me Yours bills itself as racy entertainment, and makes much of the fact that sex scenes deemed “too over-the-top for American standards” had to be edited when the show aired on the woman-oriented US cable network Oxygen. The sex scenes are graphic, but not extremely so. Some episodes include the kind of nudity that Americans can see on premium cable channels. Said nudity complements an assortment of sexual deeds such as oral sex, heterosexuals making love, lesbians making love, and ménage-à-trois, just to name a few.
Many episodes begin with Ben and Kate interviewing subjects for their book. As the subjects relate their stories, viewers see a reenactment of it. “In Sex We Trust” involves a married couple engaged in a foursome. “It’s My Party” shows a woman making love for the first time—after her sex change. And “Best Foot Forward” features the lovemaking of a man with a foot fetish. In each of these stories, Ben and Kate are inserted into the scene as detached observers, conducting their interviews as if they are in the same space as their copulatory subjects.
In mainstream cinema, sex scenes are sometimes created with the presence of a character with whose gaze the viewer can identify. This identification is believed to help mitigate the feelings of sexual perversion that might arise for the viewer as a result of watching other people have sex. In the case of Show Me Yours, audiences can identify with the gaze of either Ben or Kate. However, this effect, when combined with Ben and Kate’s highbrowed queries, lessens feelings of perversion so much so that the sex is rendered impotent.
The second season of Show Me Yours is slightly more entertaining than the first. It offers flashes of comic potential, but then it ultimately disappoints. For example, in “Let Go My Ego”, Ben and Kate interview a subject who tells the story of having dinner with his girlfriend and her family while he held the remote control to her vibrating panties. In the reenactment, when asked by the girlfriend’s father about the remote, the man tells everyone that it’s a device for pain, and a moment of amusing suspense arises.
The vibrator story would have been satisfying if it had simply ended there but, unfortunately, it continues with the boyfriend taking sick pleasure in handing over the remote to the girlfriend’s mother and grandmother so that they can try it out on their own aches and pains. Taking the “joke” to the extreme, the scene ends with the father using the remote, which causes his daughter to have an orgasm at the dinner table. Even Ben and Kate’s presence here cannot alleviate feelings of perversion. Afterward, through Kate’s dialogue, the show offers recognition of the scene’s misogyny. But the damage is done, and a situation that could have been funny quickly turns creepy.
Show Me Yours make a worthy attempt at being smart, and presents a mélange of sexual situations in a novel context. After a while, however, the bounty of sex, integrated with pedantic dialogue delivered by wooden actors, becomes tedious. Racy entertainment has never been so humdrum.