A titillating title that’s more illusory than indecent, “Sex Box” is just a blatant gimmick, and a silly one at that. Adapted from a U.K. format, WE Tv’s version is weighed down by a trio of irksome experts who deliver bedroom/relationship advice that renders the off-camera sex virtually irrelevant. Mostly, it’s an excuse to ask each of the couples, with an inflated sense of faux drama, “Are you ready to go into the Sex Box?” Beyond why viewers should care about the answer, the more obvious question is would this show even exist if they weren’t?
As if to ensure that the format doesn’t venture into anything approaching depth, the premiere hour features three different couples, introducing and briefly interviewing them before having them enter the box, an opaque chamber. Inside, they have sex (or so we’re told), with the hosts talking about them and their issues while a clock ticks, recording the duration of their alone time. (Most of the encounters run around 30 minutes, evoking considerable sympathy for the poor studio audience.)
The pairs then emerge wearing what look like Hugh Hefner’s old pajamas to discuss how it went — the idea being that people tend to be more open and vulnerable post-coitus. Yet while the first duo have a specific sexual issue — he doesn’t behave as if he cares whether she has an orgasm or not — the second are contemplating whether to bring a third party into the marriage, which makes their trip into the box seem to be one person short.
The mix of “Ooh, they’re doing it in there” teasing and relationship advice might come across as interesting to some, except the Three Wise People, all doctors of something or other, are uniquely annoying: Chris Donaghue, a sexologist; Fran Walfish, a relationship psychotherapist and “keeper of Hollywood’s bedroom secrets,” whose delivery is at best cloying; and Yvonne Capehart, a PhD. and pastor who gets offended a little too easily, given the subject matter, if anybody says anything even remotely explicit.
WE and the producers might try to couch all this as helping couples enjoy better and more fulfilling sex lives, but the segments are too brief and disjointed to be educational, and the show is predictably scored as if this were a “Friday the 13th” movie — to the point where one periodically wonders what horrors might lurk inside the titular receptacle.
“Sex Box” has already been condemned by the Parents Television Council, an indefatigable ally in terms of promoting such fare with its seal of disapproval. Still, as the time elapses in the corner while the so-called experts wait for the couples to finish (or not), it becomes increasingly clear that those viewers enticed into investing their time watching this are the ones who are truly getting screwed.