New Girl: Season 2 Episode 9 - The SSL Review
New Girl recently, and as luck would have it, there was a storyline about female orgasm. Of course the word orgasm was never said, being that this was on network television, but this episode is clearly a piece of media that contributes to the cultural understanding of female sexual release. More simply, I'm saying this episode is more than eligible for an SSL review.
A little about New Girl. It's a network sitcom starring Zooey Deschenel, and it took me about 5 or 6 episodes to get into. It wasn't that funny at first, and honestly if I didn't have Netflix and wasn't able to watch all the first episodes in like 2 hours; if I would have had to wait a week between each episode, I would have just stopped after the 1st or 2nd. I didn't though, and I think it's pretty funny now. It's come into its own, and largely because of Schmidt (Max Greenfield), who happens to be the character that my SSL review revolves around.
Some background on Schmidt; he's a dude that values expensive taste in his clothing, decor, food, personal beauty products, etc. He's kind of a shallow ass in that way, but he's also a man that values the emotional side of friendship, thoughtful consideration, good social manners and cleanliness. He's actually pretty awesome in this other way. Schmidt also believes he is a connoisseur of the ladies. The clues in the show thus far have indicated that he is phenomenal in bed. There seems to be nothing that is off limits when it comes to enjoying the pleasures of the flesh. He is open to all things and all knowledge. His endeavors are often made out to be over the top weird, vocal, costume-y, and quite pleasing to the ladies.
In this episode, after a raucous night of sex, with his boss, she tells him that she wasn't even close to "getting there," and he is immediately devastated. I think he actually says his whole world view is broken now.
Luckily, there is a dinner party going on outside his bedroom door which includes a lesbian gynecologist, and Schmidt being Schmidt immediately titles her a "va-genius" and asks her for advice - which she agrees to give if he makes an appointment at her office. He makes the appointment, goes, and in the office the Va-genius pulls out a diagram to help show him what she normally would do to please a lady. The audience sees clearly that this is a picture of the inner female reproductive system, but we no longer see the picture or where they are pointing when they start talking.
Let me reiterate. This picture is all vag, cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. There are no outer female genitals at all, and the straight on, floating-baby-making-parts style of the pic does not let on that the clitoris or labia even exist. Anyway, Va-genius begins to instruct using the picture, but Schmidt takes over, telling her all the things he likes to do. He goes on a passionate rant that involves all kinds of outrageously vague euphemisms, like "tying a ribbon because it's birthday time." There is no way to know what the hell he means, but what we do know is that the Va-genius is getting all hot and bothered. Pulling herself together, she confirms his belief that he too is a Va-genius, and that he should do just fine pleasing a woman. In the end, he and his boss decide that the problem is that they just aren't clicking because they're not in love.
So....what, my friends, does this insinuate about what is needed for a woman to orgasm? This episode's message, in my opinion, is a much clearer message than we usually get from media about female orgasm. Every indication is that manipulating the vagina is what gets a lady there. There was no mention, not even a slight insinuation, that the clitoris exists. It was all vagina, all the time. Now, granted, a lot of people use the word vagina, incorrectly I might add, when they mean vulva. So, I might have given New Girl a very slight benefit of the doubt, but I can't because when the "Va-geniuses" are discussing how to "get a woman there," they where showing how to do that on a picture of the inner reproductive orgasms only. They could have left the picture as vague as the euphemisms they were using, but they didn't. They specifically linked female orgasm to the vagina. The clit had nothing to do with it according to this show.
It doesn't matter to me whether any of this was done for laughs or because of something like decency laws. No matter the reason behind it, it is misleading, incorrect, and ultimately shitty for our cultural understanding of the female orgasm (although it's also a completely status quo way of speaking about it). There was a clear insinuation that women orgasm through vaginal stimulation (although it is quite murky what is stimulating the vagina in those wierd euphemisms - hand? toy? penis?...who knows). There was no mention of the clitoris at all, and since the overwhelming culture sense is (incorrectly) that vaginal stimulation causes orgasm, this episode did nothing but heavily reinforce that misinformtion.
I'm giving this episode a 0 vulva rating. I'm particularly saddened because the Schmidt character lends itself so well to being the douchy dude who unexpectedly schools everyone on his actually quite progressive understanding of the clitoris and the female orgasm. Instead, he is nothing but status quo cultural ignorance, deceptively disguised as sexual genius. It's maddening really.