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Minx’s Ellen Rapoport & Ophelia Lovibond on ’70s Feminism, Sexual Pleasure, & Season 2

Minx may be set in the 1970s, but something felt undeniably new about the series when it premiered on HBO Max in March 2022. Some of it, yes, was the sheer volume of penises flying across the screen right in episode 1, but feisty protagonist Joyce Prigger (Ophelia Lovibond) resonated with our current moment more deeply than viewers might want to admit, even as she made mistakes along the way. Minx creator and showrunner Ellen Rapoport and lead Lovibond talked with SheKnows’ Reshma Gopaldas about the ’70s feminism portrayed in the show, what it was like working with Jake Johnson (neither of them has watched New Girl, if you can believe it), how they tackled sex-positive, pleasure-focused moments like Joyce’s revelatory masturbation scene, and why Joyce and Doug will never, ever date. Watch the full interview above for their honest answers about all that and more, including what they can share about season 2.

In Minx season 1, Joyce dreams of starting a serious feminist magazine called The Matriarchy Awakens, but the only publisher whose interest she catches is pornographer Doug Renetti (Jake Johnson). Doug has the money and interest in helping realize Joyce’s idea, but with a significant twist: They’ll also make it the first porn magazine for women, complete with naked male centerfolds.

Creator and showrunner Ellen Rapoport didn’t just pluck this idea out of the air: It actually happened.

“I read an article that was an oral history [of] Playgirl or Viva,” she tells Gopaldas. “What I learned was that these kinds of erotic magazines in the ’70s, these erotic magazines for women, not only existed but existed as creations of both feminists and pornographers.”

“It felt like this very rich workplace comedy, frankly,” she adds.

With Ophelia Lovibond’s Joyce and Jake Johnson’s Doug, and a highly lovable supporting cast in Oscar Montoya’s Richie, Idara Victor’s Tina, Jessica Lowe’s Bambi, and Lennon Parham’s Shelley, the friction Rapoport envisioned in how these magazines must have worked came perfectly to life. Joyce’s strait-laced instincts are challenged at every turn by the warm, wise, and sexually knowledgeable people she meets in the porn industry — but she draws the line at anyone overstepping on the vision she has for her magazine. She may have renamed it Minx and embraced an element of male pornography throughout its pages, but she holds firm in insisting that this magazine has to be good for women, serve them instead of sell to them, and she fights hard for that.

No matter how out there any scene in Minx may have seemed to you, there’s evidence that the kind of fights we saw between Doug and Joyce were likely happening behind the scenes.

“A lot of the ideas in them reflected the things that we’re still talking about in terms of feminist concerns…abortion, rape, sexual harassment, emotional labor, marriage,” Rapoport describes of the “vintage porn” she checked out as research. “You would have these serious articles — then you would turn the page and then there was just a naked very hairy man on a horse. And then turn again, and it was a diet pill, in a feminist magazine as an advertiser.”

Lovibond’s Joyce, tasked with simultaneously educating her porn colleagues on the patriarchy and unlearning her own internalized misogyny, was an exciting challenge for the English actress — even and especially that masturbation scene.

“When I read it, I thought, brilliant, we never see this,” Lovibond says of that scene — and Rapoport only had one reservation about how they would pull it off.

“The vibrator was like a real vintage vibrator and I was like ‘if this explodes…'” Rapoport admits.

Find out which Minx characters both women think they’re most like, what surprised them about audience reactions, and more in the full interview above.

 

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