Open House: The Great Sex Experiment, Channel 4, review: Pure shock value

On channel 4 Open House: The big sex experimentcouples eager to explore open relationships on their way to a country house full of single hotties and equipped with an intimacy therapist to see if they could “break one of society’s biggest taboos”.

They did this via brightly lit drinks receptions, where they played the coolest “erotic” games on this side of an Ann Summers party. No wonder everyone was dizzy: it was the X-rated equivalent of a child’s birthday.

The first episode featured Nathan and Mady, who were interested in being in a breakup with another woman, and the long-married Jon and Danielle, who wanted to try group sex but were plagued by previous affairs.

There is certainly room on mainstream television to expand our understanding of sex, and the show tried to start some of these conversations by looking at why non-monogamy could appeal and what it might require: communication, trust, and emotional resilience. But that nuance was overshadowed by graphic footage of the sexual encounters, which did not add much other than shock value.

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For a show that deals with exploring the motives of people’s sexual desires, it never dived into whether any of their kinks embraced voyeurism, for example, or what it might mean to have their intimate interactions broadcast to the nation.

Inclusive sex positivity is one thing, but most safe rooms are not equipped with cameras and a Friday night in prime time.

Open house: The big sex experiment continues on Friday, April 8 at 21 on Channel 4

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