A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The tone of this show is upbeat, positive, and accepting. There's lot of talk about what participants enjoy and what they want, and how their partners can give it to them. It's uplifting to see loving couples showing their love physically. Themes of empathy and communication dominate.
Positive Role Models
With so many participants and a relatively public forum, we don't get to know the people on this show on a deep level. But it's clear that each has agreed to be on the show in the spirit of exploration, with a genuine goal of improving their relationships.
Participants are diverse in age, race, body type, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Queer relationships are taken as seriously as hetero ones, with no difference in how they're treated. Men and women are encouraged to reject gender roles that don't work for them, and to tune into and respect their partners' desires.
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Violence & Scariness
Some exercises involve some degree of aggressive physicality, e.g., one partner gently smacks another's backside with a paddle. But both givers and receivers are asked constantly how they feel about the contact, and if it's pleasurable and consensual.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Talk and visuals are graphic and frank, there are discussions of body parts and bodily functions, orgasms, kissing, images of nude bodies (private parts are kept covered), and more. Couples talk about their sex lives and vent frustrations, then are led through exercises such as blindfolding each other and dancing together, or using implements to discover what kinds of touch are enjoyable. We see bodies moving together, participants shivering, gasping, crying, kissing; sometimes private parts are touched out of the camera's frame or under blankets. We see no actual sex, but we do see nudity in a non-sexual context, with a woman standing nude in front of the mirror talking about accepting her body.
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Very occasional cursing and language includes "s--t" and words for body parts (e.g., "d--k").
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Products & Purchases
While there are no outright calls to purchase anything, viewers can't ignore that Goop as a company is first and foremost an aspirational lifestyle brand. The series highlights sex toys, and on the Goop website, it mentions Sex, Love & Goop and "To help you explore -- and connect you to what you need and want -- we've collected some of the most beautiful and functional tools we know" (for purchase).
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sex, Love & Goop is a reality show hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow in an extension of her lifestyle brand, Goop. The focus is on sexuality in the context of relationships, with several real-world couples discussing their relationship, sexual and otherwise, and then being paired with a sexual health educator who coaches them communicate more positively and have more mutually satisfying sex. Sexual talk and imagery is explicit and frank, but we don't see any touching of private parts (a few times this touching takes place out of the frame of the camera, or is obscured by a sheet), though there are many images of partners stroking each other's backs, legs, necks, and so on. We see sex toys such as vibrators and hear discussions of how they work. We also see nudity in a non-sexual context, with a woman standing nude in front of the mirror discussing body shame and her acceptance of and appreciation of her own body. There is discussion of body parts, orgasms, sexual turn-ons, and the like, and we see partners who are diverse in terms of age, race, sexual identity, ethnicity, and body type. There's no non-consensual violence, but we see some consensual acts such as one partner swatting their partner's backside with a paddle. The overall tone of the show is positive and accepting; participants are encouraged to tell their partners what they want and to explore their own enjoyment. Themes of empathy and communication predominate; there's acceptance of what people are like and what they want rather than talk about what they should be like and enjoy. Language is very infrequent: "s--t," "d--k."
Is It Any Good?
Honest and surprisingly touching, this show about sexual health and intimacy between couples transcends awkwardness to become a moving look at partners pleasing each other in and out of the bedroom. The couples are diverse (in terms of age, race, background, gender, body type) but all share a common issue: They have problems in their relationship that are affecting their sex lives. As we meet them one by one, the couples explain what they believe to be the problems impeding their intimacy, then they are matched with sexual health practitioners who lead them through exercises designed to break through their boundaries and allow them to safely express their own sexual feelings while tending to their partner's needs.
The results are positively moving. One couple, Damon and Erika, share a rather sitcom-ish sexual dilemma as the show begins: He wants more sex than she does; while she feels beleaguered, he feels rejected. Within a few moments they're talking to "somatic sexologist" Jaiya Ma, who says with pride that her job is to help couples have a "hot and juicy sex life." She instructs Erika and Damon to strip down in turn, and then lie on a table while the other explores what kind of touch makes their spouse twitch and jump. Damon's experience is so intense that he gets goosebumps, followed by tears. Looking over the footage, Paltrow remarks what a rare sight Damon's reaction is, when men are typically depicted in all forms of media as being aggressors rather than recipients of pleasure. It's true. And insightful. Viewers who primarily know the Goop brand through jokes about Paltrow and her jade egg may be surprised to find how genuinely affecting Sex, Love & Goop can be.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.