Having broadened their scope to include a wide range of topics recently –everything from race inequality to the creative design process– Netflix has turned it's sights on perhaps the most common topic of all, sex. Or specifically sex and dating in the age of technology.
A six-episode docu-series, Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On follows on from the original Hot Girls Wanted documentary film from 2015 (also on Netflix), which delved into the amateur porn industry in Florida, as told through five young women working in it. The new series which just dropped on April 21, focuses on pornography in the digital and download era, with each episode highlighting a different topic.
Co-produced by the original documentary's director, Jill Bauer, and actress Rashida Jones, who also directs the first episode, Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On aims to keep open the discussion about female sexuality and how technology and sex intersect in the modern age.
Taking on feedback after the original film – that it presented a very one-sided perspective of a small subsection of people working in porn, that being young female performers – the filmmakers turned their lens on a more diverse group, not just in terms of gender, race, or sexuality, but also within the roles in the industry.
The six episodes focus on, respectively, women behind the camera; a former male reality star's experiences with Tinder; a porn agent recruiting new performers; two black male porn actors; a cam girl and her best client; and a young woman on trial for live-streaming her friend being raped on Periscope. The last episode isn't focused on the porn industry and neither is the Tinder episode, but they both act as a segue showing how we consume sex via technology and how easily (and scarily) it can cross over into real life.
By examining the intersection of sex and technology, the series aims to debunk the myths surrounding porn, especially with regards to the young adults who are consuming it. With the average age that a teenager views pornography for the first time being 11, which is often before they receive formal sex education at school, the youth of today's relationship towards sex is highly unrealistic, for both sexes.
This statistic makes it even more important to highlight the issues with mainstream porn, and really focus on bringing more diversity to the industry and discussion to sidelined topics. Which is exactly what the show is aiming to do, and does so for the most part, highlighting lesser known feminist porn, and exposing the racism that is still rife in the industry.
One of its major pitfalls however is the inconsistency of the six episodes – the Tinder and rape trial episodes aren't about the porn industry, while the other four have a similar thread, focusing on various behind-the-scenes (and front-of-lens) jobs in the porn industry. Technology is certainly the overall theme of the series, but with sex and romance, and rape for that matter, being such vastly different topics, it's not enough to elevate the series, ending up instead as six small vignettes, some good and some average.
That said, Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On has at least opened the conversation (or rather kept it going) and is exploring new avenues within sex and dating in the modern age, and for that we welcome it. It doesn't try to shame, but instead educate, and that is a breath of fresh air. We can only hope Netflix, and future seasons of the show, continue to raise questions and keep discussion about sex alive, because it's certainly not going anywhere.
Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On is now available to watch on Netflix.
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