Can TV Shows Fuel Better Sex Talks IRL?


Can TV Shows Fuel Better Sex Talks IRL?

Marisa Nightingale
May 14, 2020
A still from the Freeform show, "Everything's Gonna Be Ok"

What we know: young people want to hear from their parents and other adults in their lives about sex, love, relationships and how to navigate it all. Year in and year out, research and real stories back this up.

What we also know: parents, cousins, aunts/uncles, and mentors want to be trusted, go-to sources for the young people in their lives.

What makes most adults uncertain: how to start. And how not to let fear of paralyzing awkwardness put us off.

The good news: in honor of #TalkingIsPower month, we’ve gathered six of our favorite TV sex talks. These conversations are not picture-perfect: they are messy, fraught and sometimes comically awkward. That’s why we love them—and why they provide such a great starting point for further exploration. There’s no such thing as the perfect sex talk…or even “the” singular talk; it’s a life-long conversation about reproductive well-being, grounded in trust and connection.

Each clip offers a small taste of complex stories that run through episodes and seasons. We are honored to serve as content partners to this lineup of shows and networks. Tune in with your family (or catch up to your kids) and talk about how characters handled the situations that came up. Check out our tips to help get the conversation started.

After watching these clips try out the prompts, and share your stories using #TalkingIsPower on your favorite social channel (tag us at @PowertoDecide) throughout May!

Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (Freeform)

Matilda feels very ready for sex, now that she’s 18. Older brother (and guardian) Nicholas tries to explain the finer points of what being ready for sex means in different situations and life stages.

Question: What do you think makes someone “ready” for sex?

Learn more and tune in

Follow: @EverythingsOkTV

Sex Education (Netflix)

Otis and his distant dad video chat about the fact that Otis feels “behind” his peers because he’s still a virgin. His dad shares that the first time is often not the most enjoyable and encourages him to “rip the band-aid off” as soon as possible. 

Question: Do you agree with the advice from Otis’s dad? Why or why not?

Learn more and tune in

Follow: @Netflix

Unexpected (TLC)

In this supercut, each family offers advice to parents of teens about how to talk to them about avoiding pregnancy before they’re ready. Teen mom Kim tells her parents that she was afraid of telling them she was sexually active because she didn’t want to get in trouble. She warns other parents not to give off that same vibe to their teens since that’s when “bad things happen.”

Question: How can parents show concern without judgment? 

Learn more and tune in

Follow: @TLC

Black-ish (ABC)

Dre and Bow spend the entire episode debating the double standard that society holds for young women vs. young men when it comes to sex—and come to realize that they’ve internalized it and have been talking very differently with their own son and daughter about sex and expectations.

Question: What are some of the different messages young men and young women are hearing about sex?

Learn more and tune in

Follow: @BlackishABC

Grownish (Freeform)

When Zoey and her friends reunite on campus to start their junior year, Nomi surprises them with her pregnancy. The conversation begins with “your pregnant ass is pregnant?!” and unfolds into a thoughtful, comedic, and timely exploration of the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.

Question: Have you ever thought about how a pregnancy would affect your life right now?

Learn more and tune in

Follow: @grownish

The Bold Type (Freeform)

Kat tells Oliver, the top stylist at Scarlet magazine: “I’m never quite right. Not Black, not white, not gay, not straight.” When she asks Oliver “where’s the space in between?” he shares his own long-ago coming out journey and assures her that she doesn’t need other people to define her: “you have to create it. And claim it as your own.” Pure inspiration, support and warmth.

Question: What makes Oliver so approachable on the subject of sexuality?

Learn more and tune in

Follow: @TheBoldTypeTV