Well, now! I know that, more often than not, this space tends to cover media that’s more about a storied narrative — films, TV, and the like. But who doesn’t love a good documentary from time to time? I know I sure do! Be it Planet Earth, Chef’s Table, or any of the other modern classics, I love learning more about the world around me.
So when I saw that a streaming service was offering a six-part series called Planet Sex, covering complicated topics like monogamy, gender, and sexuality in a dynamic way, you could definitely color me intrigued. But when I saw that the host was supermodel and #bicon Cara Delevingne who would be learning about these topics along with the audience members, I was thoroughly intrigued and knew I had to cover it for our favorite queer review column. So that’s what we’re gonna do!
First and foremost, there will be SPOILERS for this 2023 offering from Hulu. In order for me to tell you if the content is suitable and cool or doesn’t go far enough, I will have to mention some of the content. So if you haven’t watched this series yet, I highly advise doing so before any further perusing. Also at this point, I should give you a few content warnings, including but not limited to: talks of suicidal ideation and depression, gender dysmorphia, homophobia, and the like. I believe it is rated Mature as there is discussion of sexual content, so please take heed if you’re a teen. Finally, if this is your first time around the Scale, you can learn all about the metric here.
Planet Sex is a documentary that goes to multiple locations around the world to learn both the culture and science of human sexuality, covering everything from porn, polyamory, the gender spectrum, and the sexual spectrum. It is hosted by bi supermodel Cara Delevingne.
What I Liked:
While many documentaries will take on the vantage point of an almost omniscient force in the worlds explored, often with narrators commenting but not being seen on screen, I appreciated how the documentary often spoke intimately with Cara about her own journey through gender fluidity and exploring her bisexuality. It worked as a very human perspective as we watch her and ourselves learn about multiple scientific studies, cultures, clubs and societies that often break boundaries of binaries and heteronormative narratives and expectations that Western, but also worldwide, societies will feed us growing up. Cara’s deprogramming and first-hand experience speaking with the guests — even with asides and unfiltered moments with the producers — kept the show zipping along in an authentic way as we discovered these subjects and gray areas alongside her.
What was great was that, despite being a queer woman whose life is steeped in queer culture, there were things that I found were both really approachable and warm in regards to how the doc discussed topics. There were topics that I was fairly familiar with, but also tons of stuff and concepts throughout multiple cultures that even the most seasoned queer person would be delighted to learn about. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that there is stuff for a straight newbie interested in learning about the queer landscape, as well as stuff for the seasoned expert alike. It was a really affirming watch in that way.
Also? No problem with anyone using the term “bi”, discussing its definition or acceptance as a viable identity that I saw. Kind of wonderful to see — then again, this is a sex-positive, queer-positive documentary, so that is closer to being a given than an abnormality.
What I Didn't Like:
As much as there is to learn in Planet Sex, with all its slick graphics and approachable data, I often felt that the way the story beats and the show as a whole was constructed to try to find some definitive answers on some very abstract ideas. It works great as an eye-opener for many subjects, but it should not be the end of the conversation for anyone looking to learn more about how we tick.
Planet Sex has a lot to offer that goes far beyond the restrictive sex education that we are still far too often given today. But that doesn’t mean that it is the end-all, be-all documentary about bisexuality, or really any topics in the sexual diaspora. That said, I found myself halfway through the series texting a straight friend of mine to watch the show as it was laying out some topics I was having trouble explaining in a way that was difficult for me to convey. Definitely worth a watch — and not just if you can find a streaming service during the water wars.