A Pastor, a Sexologist, and a Psychotherapist Send Two Lesbians into the “Sex Box”

A pastor, a psychotherapist, and a sexologist walk into a sex box. Or, rather, tell you to get in there and do your biz. There was a lesbian couple on Episode 2 of Sex Box last night, which gave us a great excuse to watch this not-as-scandalous as it sounds relationship advice show. Sex Box, WE’s new reality show which airs Fridays at 10pm ET/9pm CT, is billed as “a groundbreaking, unprecedented and life-changing way for couples in crisis to heal their sexual and emotional issues.” The premise of the so-called scientifically proven theory is that in the first 15 minutes after sex, people are able to open up and be honest with each other.

The couples come onstage in their normal clothes and talk to the panel of experts: Dr. Chris Donaghue, Sexologist and Clinical Psychotherapist; Dr. Fran Walfish, Relationship Psychotherapist and Dr. Yvonne Capehart, Pastor and Couples Counselor. Then, they go into the sound-proof, camera-free sex box to do their thing. When they are done, they come back out to talk again, but this time wearing a satin robe or pajama set (because it’s really important the studio audience and audience-at-home really gets that they just did it naked style).

So here we go. Just the ladyqueer parts of Sex Box, which you can watch online here, if your heart so desires. Meet Brittany and Sally, who got married at the Grammy’s during the Macklemore/Madonna number last year.

Chelsey, Editorial Assistant

First of all, throughout the episode they described going into the sex box as “a transformative experience” and noted that “this is [the couples’] best chance”. While I do feel like the concept of talking to couples after sex, while their endorphins are high and they are most likely to be open and honest is interesting and probably effective, I don’t think the actual time anyone spent in that box was the transformative moments for them, but rather it was the moments in which they confronted truths about their relationship that they hadn’t previously and made a plan for how to deal with them in the future. Sex was merely a tool to get them there, so focusing on their time in the box seems just a ploy to keep sex at the center of the conversation for ratings sake.

As for the lesbian couple, Sally and Brittany, the show focused their issue on Sally’s mom not accepting her daughter being gay, and thus not accepting Brittany. They posit that acceptance is the center of their problem, and often play up moments with the pastor on the therapist panel. While I won’t undermine that this is serious issue that all LGBT people face when dealing with their families, it felt like a ploy to have a “gay plot” on the show, rather than the root of Sally and Brittany’s actual, real relationship issues.

After they are in the sex box, Brittany reveals that she cheated on Sally, and Sally blames herself for this for not opening up to Brittany more. This felt like a really important moment for them, and seemed like a lot more valid reason why they are having intimacy issues. The show’s panel, however, spent little time actually delving into Brittany’s infidelity, and instead quickly refocused back on the issue of Sally’s mom not accepting them. It felt trite to always center the story back on this one singular issue, when there were clearly a lot of other issues at play.

KaeLyn, Contributing Editor

It’s hard to poke fun of the absurdity of this because the absurdity of reality TV speaks for itself. The “life-changing” promise of the show seems like a reach, for sure and the science is just silly. You know what else releases endorphins and feel-good juice? Petting a cat. Smelling lavender. Chocolate. Working out. Much of the relationship advice was good, as good as you can get in a mini-session on live TV with three different therapists talking to you at once. There was even a moment when I teared up. I like bad reality TV and this definitely fits the bill, but is it “transformative” or “radical”? Only if you think Ricki Lake and Maury are life-changing TV, too. Also the way the sex box was lit up red when “occupied” reminded me of airplane bathrooms with the little light over them but maybe that’s just because I’ve been flying a lot lately.

I digress from the point, which is Brittany and Sally. This young couple has gone from having sex “all the time” to only having it “two times a week.” OK, well, that’s still, like, a decent amount of sex. I don’t know why these experts don’t normalize for these couples that sex drive can slow down when you have been together for a while. Yes, getting the passion back and dealing with the issues behind a decrease in libido is important, but I wish sexperts would stop guaranteeing that you can be like newlyweds forever. I think it causes more issues in relationships than not, but whatever.

So of course the issue really is not just sexual. Brittany says Sally doesn’t talk about her feelings. But Sally is a huge bundle of feelings. If Sally had any more feelings, she might combust. According to the couple, these issues stem from Sally’s mom, who doesn’t accept them. The experts spend a million years talking about Sally’s mom and I can’t help but feel like the big scene between Pastor Dr. Capeheart and Sally was played up for ratings. While it’s nice to see a clergymember with conservative views on homosexuality say aloud, “I accept you,” it didn’t address the crux of the issue in their relationship.

Because after the sex box, where they apparently had really great sex (and all the more power to them, because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get it up in a light-up pod hotel room thing with the whole world directly outside), it is revealed that Brittany cheated. Now, I’m no cheater-hater. People usually cheat for a reason and you can move past it with hard work, but it is a huge breach of trust. So I wish they’d spent more than five seconds on this vs. the huge amount of time on Sally’s mom. Obviously there are major trust issues here, as well as that Brittany needs to deal with to her own stuff, too. She has some insecurities and trust and communication issues, obviously, or she wouldn’t have wandered into someone else’s bed.

In the follow-up interview, Sally and Brittany share that they believe Sex Box saved their marriage. They are darn cute together and I sincerely hope they work on their trust and communication issues. These two are burning fast and hot, as young love often does, and time will tell whether they can keep it smoldering forever.

sex box brittany and sally


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KaeLyn is a 34-year-old (femme)nist activist and the reigning Queer Fat Korean Immigrant Ms. America Pageant winner. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, over-caffeinating herself, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, eating tofu, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. Talk sexy about intersectionality, cult movies, or theatre nerdiness to her at @kaelynrich.

KaeLyn has written 123 articles for us.

23 Comments

  1. 0

    I’m a little tempted to watch it, but not a ton tempted to watch it. KaeLyn and Chelsea (and anyone else who saw it), what’s your votes? Is it worth watching or no?

    • 0

      Well if you have cable with WE, you can probably find it on demand for free. In which case, why not? It really depends how much you secretly enjoy awful reality TV. Going in with low expectations, it was slightly better than I thought it would be. The advice was, for the most part, good and nonjudgemental. The sex box itself is underwhelming. But if you like silly reality TV and relationship advice shows, it’s a relatively entertaining one. So I’d say if you have nothing else to do and it’s free, watch it. If you are looking for a quality program, move on. 🙂

  2. 0

    It’s funny, I kinda wanted to watch it ’cause I was excited to see a lesbian relationship’s problems handled in a normative way that wasn’t just about them being gay but it sounds like it was mostly about them being gay

    also the idea of a ‘sex box’ is so weird

    • 0

      Yes, like it could have been so good. Part of the problem is that Brittany and Sally were really focusing on the issue with Sally’s parents. But a good therapist would try to get to the root of it all, like, that Brittany obviously feels emotionally disconnected from Sally and Sally blames herself for everything in the relationship. But maybe I just have high expectations for a corny, hyped-up reality TV show.

      To be fair, they spent a ridiculous amount of time with the straight first couple addressing whether the husband was still attracted to his wife since she’d gained weight and a c-section scar after pregnancy. Going as far as suggesting sex positions where he wouldn’t have to look at it. He was. He was like, “Yeah, yup, still attracted to her. It was a little weird watching her have a c-section, but I’m cool.” They eventually got to addressing that her self-esteem is in the shitter and she needs more affection and communication from him, but, like, I couldn’t believe they were like, “Do it doggy style! Now get in the sex box!”

      • 0

        Point of Clarification: By “so good,” I don’t mean it ever had any hope of actually being good TV. Lourde no. But, like, being good representation of a lesbian relationship without making a big rainbow deal out of the couple being same-gender-loving.

      • 0

        Well good to know they focused on the superficial for everyone and it wasn’t just the lesbians. Yaay…for equality???

        Also, clearly these people don’t have a good grasp of male sexuality. Men do not have these ridiculously high standards for women, that would be straight women and gay men. I have never heard of a straight man turning down a woman over a scar. Let’s be real. And I know a lot of bros.

        • 0

          I agree about the gay man, as I have seen some surprising stuff said that if a straight man said we’d call a shallow and tell him that he has no right to say that). But, just last night a straight buddy told me a strong accent is a turn off, along with a couple of other things. He justification is based on profession.

  3. 0

    “If I lose Sally I have nothing, because I’ve invested my whole life in this one person”.

    “…our relationship would end. Which would kill me. I feel like I couldn’t live.”

    Damn, girls. I know this show was about couples therapy but this relationship is not going to do well until maybe they get some solo counseling as well? Because these are not healthy ways to think about or do a relationship.

    • 0

      Yeah, they need more than a reality TV show. Maybe they can go on marriage bootcamp next.

      Seriously, though, I agree that they need some professional help and to work on themselves individually if they’re going to make this marriage last. They are so young, too! I just wanted to reach out to them and be like, “You are going to be OK. Whether this relationship works out or not, it will be OK. You have so much time to figure it out.”

    • 0

      Interesting! I wonder what drives someone to be on a show like this. What are they even getting out of it? Do they really think it’ll help vs. like…getting real (private) counseling?

      • 0

        For them they did it because it was a free trip to LA plus a bit of spending money, they didn’t really think they would get help, but if they happened to get a bit of useful advice in addition to the trip and money that would be nice.

  4. 0

    They really are cute. They seem to not have knowledge or experience with how relationships work though. Sex has UPS and downs across the relationship. Twice a week is really normative especially considering there trust and communication troubles.

  5. 0

    It seems like these kids were like, ooh, “let’s get married at the Grammy’s!” without really knowing what it means to be in an adult relationship. They’re already on a reality tv therapy show only one year after they got married. They’ll be on the next version of “The Real L-Word” next.

    • 0

      It takes a certain kind of person to go on shows like this. But the Sex Box producers and “experts” make it sound so serious, like they are really going to “change lives” and all that, so maybe these couples thought it would really help? But yeah, I can’t help but think Sally and Brittany are going to show up on another reality TV show eventually.

      I really do wish them the best, but they are young and making big decisions really fast, it seems, so… The reality that you can’t live on love alone doesn’t usually sink in until you’re a little older and little more weathered by heartbreak and bitterness.

  6. 0

    OT, but I don’t know what it says about me that whenever I overhear the promos for this show, I hear the title as “Sex Bots”. I’d probably watch at least one episode of a show about sex bots though.

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