First, a brief note. This column contains no spoilers for last night’s episode of Outrageous Fortune. I’m not going to promise, or even ask, that the comment thread be that way. What you read from this point on is your own responsibility.
There are lots of reasons I love Outrageous Fortune. It’d be rude not to, really, after people went to so much trouble to make a dramatisation of a couple of years of my life. Alright, the names have been changed, but like I’m not going to recognise ‘Pascalle’ and ‘Munter’ and ‘Van’. I’m just relieved that it wasn’t me who slept with ‘Aaron Spiller’, it was ‘Pascalle’. Alright, ‘Munter’ and ‘Van’ I’ll cop to, but Aaron’s name in Real Life was Rhys and the resemblance is fucking uncanny.
Primarily, though, I’d like to give Outrageous Fortune the first ever Up Front Award for Services to Sex (Television).
The way sex is portrayed on television in general drives me to drink, and I suppose I should be grateful for the ride but I’m not. The consistency of presentation is remarkable given the level of bullshit, which is nearly total.
A couple of U.S. cable-only shows and British gay-specific dramas aside, you’ll only see one kind of sex on television. It will involve one attractive woman and one attractive man, aged between twenty and forty. There will be kissing, but no foreplay. Foreplay is rude. Actual intercourse will take place in the missionary position, unless the woman in question is a bit, y’know, ‘forthright’, in which case there may be reverse missionary. There will be a little bit of gasping and almost certainly some hands clutching at sheets, because sex is a hands-free activity. Sex on television is like actual sex, but with all the fun and interesting stuff removed.
After sex, people lie in bed wearing a minimum of two pieces of clothing each, and both genders keep their chests covered. Children might be watching and we wouldn’t want them to get corrupted by nipples.
Nobody has rude sex, or gay sex. You can have gay characters, and even gay couples, but you can’t have gay lovers.
Outrageous Fortune took what I sometimes suspect is an actual written-down manifesto on the televisual presentation of sex and gleefully set fire to it like you would a wanker’s townhouse. People of all ages and body types and predilections have sex. They do it standing up, sitting down, kneeling, against walls, gleefully, playfully, viciously, and as an expression of their characters. The infamous ‘finger licking good’ scene showed just how shockingly rare actual foreplay is on television. Bless them, they were even doing ‘porn for women’ before it got trendy.
There are lots of other reasons to love it, of course. The name of every road and school is going to make me giggle. ‘Gleaning’ has re-entered people’s vocabularies. And even when they tell you they have a big really shocking surprise up their sleeves, it still turns out to be a really shocking surprise. Now that takes real talent.