CBC Wants to Talk About Sex

New docuseries The Big Sex Talk is a fun, unfiltered look into how Canadians engage with sex, love and everything in between.

The Big Sex Talk
Where: CBC Gem
Where: Series, 6 episodes, 22 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Docu-series
Why you should watch: The Big Sex Talk isn’t your mother’s sex-ed series — but you should make her watch it anyway! This groundbreaking CBC anthology went coast to coast interviewing real Canadians — including me — about the ways they engage with sex, sexuality and relationships, and its six episodes cover everything from sex in the digital age to asexuality, polyamory and more. It’s often hard for mainstream sources to talk about sex in a way that feels realistic and fun, but the series’s diverse range of guests, tongue-in-cheek humour and stylized aesthetic check every box.

For decades, realistic conversations about sex have been pushed behind closed doors, swept under the carpet and, sometimes, even criminalized — so it’s no wonder so many people in Canada today have questions about what sex looks like in the modern age. Our “polite” (i.e. repressed) reputation has meant that candid sexual discourse often has a tough time gaining space in mainstream channels here. This is why it’s so refreshing — and so goddamn unexpected — that the CBC has just put out one of the most realistic, comprehensive, candid, and up-to-date representations of how and why Canadians are having sex.

The Big Sex Talk is a new and groundbreaking docu-series from CBC Gem that interviews Canadians from all walks of life about sex, love and sexuality. It’s certainly injected with a sex-ed spirit, but it doesn’t read like an in-class video — it deals with real topics while staying funny, modern and stylistically fresh. The show gives space to just about everyone, including sex workers, rural queer folk, asexual people, trans and genderqueer people, people with disabilities and seniors citizens; many of these groups have spent a lifetime pushed far to the margins of sexual discourse, which can turn their sex lives into intimidating, scary and sometimes even unsafe experiences. This type of content isn’t just entertaining — it’s necessary.

Full disclosure: I myself appear in several episodes of The Big Sex Talk to weigh in on sexual technology, queerness and representations of sex in the media. As a writer and sex-ed advocate, I’ve dedicated much of my conscious life to fighting for equal access to comprehensive sex education and have spent years becoming intimately acquainted with many Canadians’ deep-rooted aversion to sexual liberation. The conversations had on The Big Sex Talk are the kind that often happen in hushed tones with a heavy undertone of shame and secrecy. Seeing these topics explored on mainstream TV isn’t just a symbolic step towards the destigmatization of sex-ed; it’s a material lifeline that has the potential to help young people with questions about gender, sexuality and sex that too often get ignored, shamed or met with destructive misinformation.

Topics like asexuality, gender exploration and disabled sexuality are hard to find conclusive information about at all — a Google search can often leave you with a slew of conflicting results and opinions. Those conflicts can be hard to parse through by yourself, but it’s also important to show sex as something that doesnt look or feel the same for everybody — and luckily, this show doesn’t shy away from the conflicts that exist in the way we interact with sex. In fact, it’s almost entirely dedicated to those conflicts; it celebrates and explores the vast diversity in who we fuck, why we fuck and whether we’re fucking at all.

In a society that still often treats the human body like a dirty secret, actually seeing diverse, unfiltered bodies on TV feels radical. And, as real-life sex-ed remains under threat around the country, long-form, modern access to real sex information has the potential to be genuinely life-changing for Canadians everywhere. Many of these topics are still seen as far too controversial to even have a shot of being taught in some Canadian classrooms right now, thanks to regressive Conservative legislation — so while the fight to move institutional sex-ed forward continues, it feels like incredible progress that Canadians of all ages can find empathetic, real-world discussions that embrace sex in all its messy, confusing, liberatory glory in The Big Sex Talk.

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