Exploiting the 'Sex Box'

We recently came across a rather new TV network, Me-TV. It's great stuff for old fogies (like one of us) -- reruns of the best of television from the '60s and '70s. "Twelve O'Clock High" never looked better. You probably missed this network in all the TV clutter.

Few Americans have ever heard of the cable channel WE tv. Apparently, one way to remedy that is to put on a new show in 2015 called "Sex Box." It's another attempt to "help" Americans with their alleged puritanical reluctance to talk about sex.

The Hollywood Reporter described it as a show that follows couples whose relationships are on the rocks. The couples have sex in a soundproof box on the set, and immediately afterward, emerge to address their issues in the afterglow "with a panel of experts for a series of emotionally honest conversations about intimacy."

The obvious question: Can't the "panel of experts" simply talk to the couples about their problems without the sensationalistic intercourse? Not if they want ratings, apparently. WE tv lamely attempts to drag in science, claiming the release of oxytocin -- the "cuddle hormone" -- makes post-coital conversation more honest and effective.

The panel has two therapists, a Florida pastor, and to round it out, "comedian Danielle Stewart will provide backstage commentary." In the British version, the vile American sex columnist Dan Savage was featured on the panel.

Liberal critic Marlow Stern of the Daily Beast rants against including a pastor: "What business does a pastor have lecturing people about his or her sexual performance? Religion is one of the driving forces behind this country's prudishness to begin with."

In a sense he's right. Commitment, devotion, love -- none of that matters in this format, so why bother with a religious figure?

Marc Juris, the shameless executive who runs WE tv, boasted it's a win-win. "Our featured couples will get a once-in-a-lifetime experience, while our viewers will get the kind of bold, break-through-the-clutter programming they increasingly associate with WE tv."

In the U.K. version of "Sex Box," they didn't actually show the sex, but viewers witnessed the couple arrive immediately from the action to talk about it. The conversation could sound more like a post-game play-by-play than a therapy session, with prattling on about who had an orgasm or how they could go for hours, but "the dehydration was incredible."

There's a lot of trashy "clutter breaking" going on across the cable TV "frontier" right now. The Hollywood Reporter asserted the show "marks the latest twist on the dating genre," where VH1 most recently made headlines with "Dating Naked." That show was recently sued by a contestant who was actually shown naked in a pixelating malfunction.

That shtick is becoming its own genre. It follows TLC's "Buying Naked" (watching nudists buy real estate, because that happens all the time). And Discovery Channel's pair, "Naked Castaway" (one nude survivalist struggle) and "Naked and Afraid" (a couple set loose naked in the wild). And "Naked Vegas" on Syfy (people who paint on nude bodies), copied by "Skin Wars" on the Game Show Network, where nude bodypainting becomes a contest.

If copycatting the British TV gutter-dwellers continues, we might next see the American version of "The Naked Office," a show in which businesses attempted to boost employee morale by implementing "Naked Fridays." That takes casual Fridays to a whole new ridiculous level.

This whole trend makes you wonder if Deborah Turness, the British import now running NBC News, has considered the ultimate desperate move toward making public policy interesting. "Naked Meet the Press," anyone?