Courtesy Starz

Television

How a Show About Sex Work Became One of the Most Sex-Positive on TV

In directing material that is sexual in nature, Lodge Kerrigan’s goal is not to get you off. "I've directed a lot of sex scenes,” says the cocreator of The Girlfriend Experience, Starz's lauded, Golden Globe-nominated anthology series about female escorts, which just kicked off its second season. “When I direct a scene, I direct the sub-text of the scene. If there's no subtext, then it's just titillation, and I have no interest in doing that.”

The drama, based on Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 indie film with Sasha Grey about the day-to-day life of an escort, continues to tackle individual struggles set against the backdrop of high-end prostitution. But for Kerrigan and series co-creator Amy Seimetz, exaggerating the business of sex—controversial as it still may be—feels pedestrian. “Inherently, within the world of escorting itself, there is nothing particularly dramatic about it,” says Kerrigan. “It’s an act. You pay some money. You get something. It’s like getting a haircut.”

Seimetz and Kerrigan don't take stand for or against sex work. Instead, they've decided to treat it as a trade that simply exists. “We approached it in this non-judgmental space, of not either glorifying or saying that sex working is bad,” says Seimetz. “We knew that was going to be a topic of conversation. And as filmmakers coming from the world of independent film, that is always what you hope; that there is some dialogue and some sort of confrontation happening.”

Diverting from the first season, which starred Riley Keough as a law student entering the complex world of transactional relationships, season two consists of two storylines with no overlap save for the show's broader themes related to the two lead characters' profession, which is abbreviated simply to "the GFE."


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