8 movies and TV shows about sex, relationships and more for you to binge on ASAP
January marked the eagerly-awaited return of Sex Education, Netflix’s hit series that tracks the lives of a group of teenagers navigating sex, relationships, friendships and family. It has been widely praised for its thoughtful, honest and hilarious take on the realities of growing up, as well as for its exceptional commitment to genuine diversity and inclusivity.
Sex Education got us thinking about what else is out there shining a light on issues related to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and so here’s a list of eight TV shows and movies to entertain and educate you from the comfort of your very own couch!
The opening episode of Shrill depicts a young woman exercising her right to have an abortion, as well as highlighting the risk of the reduced effectiveness of using emergency contraception as a plus-sized woman. This heart-warming series should be high on your list if you’re into watching empowering female friendships and young adults trying their best to just make it through life.
Special follows the life of twenty-something Ryan, who is gay and disabled, as he tries to establish the career and future he wants — even if he doesn’t quite know what that is yet. There is a particularly sweet scene in which he has sex for the first time, done with the caring help of a sex worker, and it even takes special attention to feature a condom being used — a surprising omission in many Hollywood sex scenes.
Obvious Child (2014)
Obvious Child is about a young aspiring comedian coming to terms with her decision to have an abortion following a drunken one-night stand. It’s an honest portrayal of many womens’ experience of abortion, in that it can be a difficult experience but one that is ultimately the right personal choice. Jenny Slate shines as the main character who will make you laugh and cry throughout this much-needed movie.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (How I Felt When I Saw That Girl) (2019)
The timing of this film could not have been more poignant — just a year after India legalized gay sex in a landmark ruling, the country saw its first mainstream movie release with a star cast that focuses on a lesbian love story. This daring coming-of-age drama-comedy challenges conservative cultural norms in a time when LGBTQ+ attitudes and rights are changing, and hopefully signals a positive shift in queer representation on-screen in India.
The groundbreaking Pose will go down in television history for having the largest cast of trans actors ever as series regulars. The show centers around the glamorous New York underground ballroom scene of the 1980s, and through its diverse characters highlights many issues facing the LGBTQ+ community at the time — but is not at all out of place in present-day USA either. It’s full of heart and high fashion, and should definitely be on your binge-list now.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Think Dirty Dancing, and you’re probably picturing that iconic final scene — but don’t forget that the 80s classic also features a storyline about the serious risks involving unsafe abortion. The film’s screenwriter and co-producer Eleanor Bergstein more recently described how the film studio actually attempted to cut the scene, but she fought to keep it in, explaining: “That is real life. Real people have to have abortions even as they’re dancing and falling in love.”
One for the kids: the global smash-hit Frozen bucks the trend of many previous Disney offerings, in showing what consent looks like (Snow White, we’re looking at you). In one scene, protagonist Anna is asked by her love interest Kristoff if he may kiss her — to which she enthusiastically agrees, and off they go. Her relationship with him is also by no means the central goal of the film, instead focusing more on female leadership and sisterhood, so it’s no wonder Frozen is universally loved by children and adults alike.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020)
Last on our list is one to look forward to later this year. Never Rarely Sometimes Always follows an American teenage girl as she travels to another state for an abortion, as she cannot obtain one in her own. As abortion rights in the US continue to be threatened, the urgency for this movie has arguably never been greater, and we look forward to seeing how this latest release handles this key human rights issue.
Now over to you — got your own viewing suggestions for something unmissable that tackles SRHR topics? Let us know in the comments below!