~ October 2021 ~ Has your sex life been suffering during the pandemic? Single and ready to mingle, but not sure how to get back into the groove? Married and monogamous but can’t Netflix and chill? Sex: Unzipped is a comedy special that hopes to get you back into some sexy times. Hosted by rap star Saweetie, the special talks about sex in a pretty frank — and sometimes clinical — manner. The host gets help not only from comedian talking heads, but from sex experts like Dr. Ruth. Finally, a group of sex-positive puppets (yes, you read that correctly) helps bring the message home by showing how sex is different for, well, just about everyone.
The Gist: The special is broken into chapters, talking about topics ranging from having sex for the first time — don’t expect magic — all the way to the “climax”. Among the talking heads: Comedians like Nikki Glaser, London Hughes, Ian Karmel, Michelle Buteau, Sam Jay, Katherine Ryan and Joel Kim Booster, experts like Alexander Cheves, Oloni, and Stella Anna Sonnenbaum. Finally, a puppet version of Dr. Ruth Westheimer answers some of the talking heads’ questions as only Dr. Ruth can. Other talking heads include Dominique Jackson and Trixie Mattel.
The puppets do the heavy lifting (so to speak). We see them in sketches, like one where a peach and an eggplant see a couple getting it on and wonder why grapes get all the action. Another set of puppets do role playing. Yet another talks about oral sex. You get the idea.
What Comedy Specials Will It Remind You Of?: Uh… Maybe a sexified version of Death to 2020? We’re not really sure where you would see this particular combination of comedy, puppetry and sex in any other special.
Performance Worth Watching: We’ll give this to Chris Barlow and the puppet makers at Puppets & Creatures for making fun-looking characters. And the performances from the puppeteers are also great, making sure that the characters are funny and very, very grown-up. We especially liked Mike the bear (who’s a “bear”) and the lone couple, Barb and Zuk. There’s a scene where Zuk is shown wearing a snorkel with a fish in it, which we won’t spoil here, that was one of the funnier scenes in the special.
Memorable Dialogue: If you weren’t taking notes during Stella Anna Sonnenbaum’s very detailed description of proper oral sex techniques — one segment dedicated to the vagina, one to the penis — then you should have.
Sex and Skin: The entire special is about sex, but the only nudity is of the felt variety. That’s right, folks: Naked puppets abound in this special.
Our Take: Directed by Ben Turner and Gabe Turner (Sunderland ‘Til I Die) with Spencer Millman (Mighty Boosh), the emphasis on Sex: Unzipped is definitely on comedy. In that case, the show’s success rate is a bit hit and miss. Your enjoyment of this special really lies in how much you enjoy puppets having sex. Seriously.
Some of the sex is implied, but there are others — one involving an umbrella — that are not so subtle. It certainly isn’t there to get you in the mood, as much as Saweetie and her fellow producers want it to. We’re sorry, but naked puppets having orgasms really doesn’t do it for us.
The talking heads fill in the comedic and informational gaps nicely. They represent a cross section of cisgender, transgender, straight, and LGBTQ sex positivity, but the one guy we loved hearing from is Romesh Ranganathan because he represents the “frustrated and not getting any” demographic.
We also enjoyed Buteau talking about how she used to go through the “novel” that was making a Yahoo Personals profile. Let’s just say we’re old enough to remember doing that too, and we think the “kids today” have it easy with swiping right and left.
We wish there were more than two Dr. Ruth segments. We’re fans of the nonagenrerian sex therapist, and we would have been willing to see an entire hour of a puppet version of her talking about going down on people.
Our Call: STREAM IT. We enjoyed enough of Sex: Unzipped to recommend it. But for the most part, you’ll either think this special is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen or you’ll think it’s hilarious. There really is no in between.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.