I had a great time watching the first five episodes of “Minx.” The comedy, which premieres Thursday on HBO Max, is raunchy, smart, culturally aware, charming, and funny. It also wins the recent race for giving TV audiences the most images of male genitalia, overtaking “The White Lotus,” “Euphoria,” “Scenes From a Marriage,” and even “Pam & Tommy,” in which we oversee a conversation between our antihero and his penis.
Set in 1970s L.A., it’s a fictional account of the creation of the first erotic magazine for women, with a feminist, Ophelia Lovibond’s Joyce, and a porn publisher, Jake Johnson’s Doug, teaming up to make it happen. There are plenty of “Odd Couple” and “Team of Rivals” moments between them, as she hopes to educate readers with stories about equal pay while he’s in it for money and attention. She’s inexperienced — her reaction on the day a parade of naked men audition to be the first centerfold is priceless — but of course she begins to loosen up over time. Losing the shame around our bodies, our desires, and our sexuality is one of the more compelling themes of the show, which was created by Ellen Rapoport.
“Minx” surrounds Joyce and Doug with a large, well-cast group of characters, both at the office and at home. Lennon Parham is amusing as always as Joyce’s game sister, and so is Jessica Lowe as a model aspiring for something more. Stephen Tobolowsky, Amy Landecker, Michael Angarano, they’re all delightful. Johnson is especially impressive, walking the line between sleazy and liberated, a guy who is onboard with feminism but also tethered to stereotypical gender roles. His low-key presence is an important part of what makes the show work, and he and Lovibond have an appealing back-and-forth. Fortunately, the show does not appear to be pushing the pair toward the dreaded will-they-or-won’t-they romance.
“Minx” made me think of “GLOW,” and “Boogie Nights,” but it’s very much its own blend of period comedy and social commentary. It’s original, and addictive.
Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.