Thursday, March 17, 2022

REVIEW: 'Minx' - Joyce Awkwardly Figures Out How to Compromise With Her Magazine in 'Not Like a Shvantz Right in the Face'

HBO Max's Minx - Episode 1.01 "Not Like a Shvantz Right in the Face"

After a fateful meeting with low-rent publisher Doug Renetti, self-proclaimed feminist Joyce Prigger finally gets a shot at creating the magazine of her dreams - with one enormous catch.

"Not Like a Shvantz Right in the Face" was written by Ellen Rapoport and directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg

Joyce has been working on her feminist magazine for a decade. She is passionate about it. The show immediately throws her together with Doug. He presents as the only viable option to publish her work. She scoffs at the idea because he produces porn magazines. She immediately judges him as a seedy man always looking to take advantage of woman. She has the smarts and perspective to make an impact in this industry. She needs someone to see her vision and greenlight her magazine. All the publishers say no. That can't entirely be blamed on the sexist views of the time either. Joyce doesn't have a solid pitch. She wants to showcase how her idea is drastically different than all the other magazines that target women. She does so by condemning the content they provide. It's not a smart strategy. Doug sees that. He ultimately has to be told her writing is worthwhile too. He doesn't read the pieces himself. Instead, some of the models need a distraction on set. It's a convenient way to keep them busy while he's dealing with other problems. They were inspired by what Joyce write. They connected with her voice. That's a powerful suggestion. It showcases how Joyce has supporters within the show's universe. It's a much harder sell to get the audience invested in her journey. She doesn't want to compromise her values. The only way she can get her magazine published is if she includes centerfold pictures of naked men. She is uncomfortable by the prospect. She doesn't want to be in the casting room judging men on their bodies. It's partly a way to get even with all the gratuitous nudity women have been forced into showing over the years. This show needs everyone to be comfortable with male full frontal nudity. Joyce is the only one who can be uncomfortable by the exposure. She doesn't see the value in it because she doesn't actually enjoy the sexual organ on men. She has seen two. They were fine. She isn't obsessed with seeing as many as she can. Plus, she believes they will distract from her ultimate mission. She wants to inform the women of the world with informed stories about the gender imbalance throughout society. Doug sees this product as doing that. He is achieving equity amongst his portfolio. He is exploiting men's bodies just as much as women's. He knows the business. He is clear about a marketplace existing for this content. Joyce has to be sold on it.

And then, Burt Reynolds is seen posing in Cosmopolitan. A celebrity flaunting himself in that position is enough to drive every woman into complete ecstasy. Joyce sees it everywhere she goes. This one image empowers those she works with. They are inspired to fight back against the sexual harassment they face at work. That's the general response. Meanwhile, Joyce knows she can do this even better. Burt Reynolds isn't even nude in the picture. It's all a tease for what women apparently want to see. That sells her on the premise of the show. As such, she can immediately support Doug's vision. That was always going to happen. That means the show is forceful in its introduction. It doesn't want things to naturally lock into place for its characters. Sure, they can face adversity and obstacles. However, it doesn't have to be designed around the lead being uneasy within it. That's such a peculiar creative decision. It means Joyce will always exist to be shocked by the boundaries being pushed by her magazine. She comes up with creative ideas. She has a staff eager to push this premise to its limits. But she will always pull them back to what she deems more acceptable. She comes from a privileged world. She has always stood out as the outlier who didn't fall into place with what is expected of her as a woman in this society. She aspired for more. And now, she's fallen into an environment where she is the prude aghast at how normal everyone treats this profession. It's strange. It presents a transformational journey. One where Joyce's first impressions are challenged. She shouldn't go into any of these rooms judging the people based on the work they do. She is even awkward in admitting she was aroused by one man who stumbled into an intimate position with her. Once she becomes more free in this environment, the show itself will probably shine more brightly. That may not happen as soon as some may want though. The season may force the viewer to endure a lot of cringeworthy behavior on her behalf. That allows Jake Johnson and the other actors in the ensemble to have fun. In fact, Doug is already a charming yet sleazy character. He works immediately. Everything else is established to be valuable and funny as well. Now, it's up to the execution to see if the show can offer great comedy while only being tentatively sure with its lead character.