Pop Culture #634

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Pop Culture #634

At first glance Luke Warm Sex looks like yet another television series where a comedian takes it upon themselves to explore an area of interest to them (and hopefully the rest of us). John Safran remains the master of the form in Australia, though it’s been a while since he’s done any television work, while in recent years Judith Lucy has tackled both religion and being a woman in two ABC series.

This time around it’s Luke McGregor – increasingly the ABC’s go-to comedy guy, having appeared in Utopia and Dirty Laundry Live, and later this year he’ll be teaming up with with Celia Pacquola for Rosehaven, a new comedy series filmed in rural Tasmania – who’s tackling the big issues, and they don’t get much bigger than sex. “But isn’t our society awash in sex and sexiness and sex tips and all that stuff?” you might wonder, “isn’t it bad enough that triple j replaced John Safran and Father Bob with a sex advice show?” Well, sure, it’s not like the media is coming up short when it comes to sex, but Luke Warm Sex has an angle that sets it apart from the rest: Luke McGregor. Not for him the brash, confident style of comedy: McGregor’s success has come from awkwardness and plenty of it, and while there’s no doubt he’s a funny guy, it’s also pretty easy to see the angle that’s being promoted here. Still, perhaps having a host who’s clearly uncomfortable around the subject he’s taking on is the way to go when it comes to… look, no it’s not. And to be fair, the show itself steers into this curve, with McGregor saying up front “I don’t want to be awkward about sex”. But what that does is turn this into a show that’s about one man’s quest to stop feeling like “I’m about to fail a test I never studied for” – it’s “a crash course in great sex”. Which sounds like it should be hosted by someone who already knows about great sex, but instead it’s hosted by a comedian… only he’s not trying to be too funny because it’s a serious topic. Wait, so why is it being hosted by a comedian? Why is it on in one of the ABC’s comedy timeslots?

The whole point of the show, according to the opening voice-over, is “sex is important and I’m going to treat it with the seriousness that it deserves because we all deserve better sex lives”, and no-one here’s going to disagree with that. But if you’re making that show, then putting a comedian out front is kind of misleading, what with him being a guy who only gets on television because he’s meant to be funny. If you’re making a show about a comedian figuring out how to improve his sex life (which is really what this is), then being funny (or having a host with a stronger comedic persona than just “I’m kind of uncomfortable but I’m here to learn”) should be a lot higher on the list. Or at least, there should be more to the show than just a long string of mildly interesting interviews and encounters with various sexperts. Luke Warm Sex isn’t a bad show by any means; it’s just that it’s a little too easy to see how it could be a lot better.

Written by Anthony Morris