Don't Trust the B in Apt 23 S1: The SSL Review

Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23
I started watching this. I think my brother in law (husband's brother) told me to watch this and then I think my sister did too (my actual sister that used to be super mean to me when she was a teenager but is pretty awesome now and gives me good ideas for TV to watch). Anyway, I got 2 recommendations and plus it was sitting up front on my Netflix home page, so I went for it. Charlie's had several trips in the last couple months, and I cannot watch a lot of my fave shows without him in good faith, so I've been running through a variety of sitcoms that Charlie would probably also like, but since I started them on my own, we're not technically bound to watch them together via the universal laws of steaming TV watching. I actually watched the whole first season in one night...which to be fair is not that impressive because there is only 10 episodes in the first season and that just comes out to like a really, really long movie if you think about it.

Turns out I found 2 SSL Reviewable moment in the first season, but strangely it looks like the Season-Episode configuration on Netflix is different than the original airing of the show. There were only 7 episodes aired in the original 2011-2012 season, but Netflix has 10 episodes in the first season. They're kinda switched around. Why they gotta confuse me like that? Anyway, I'm going with the Netflix episode configuration because I feel like it.  Anyway, one is in the 1st episode and the other is in the 8th, but they are connected...and they are both about tub masturbation.

SSL Reviews
As my oh so loyal readers know, an SSL Review is a critique that focuses solely on depictions or discussions of female orgasm or masturbation. Nothing else really matters as far as my critiquing goes, and so if it doesn't have those types of discussions/depictions, I don't SSL Review. Regular ol' no-ladygasm-included depictions of sex don't count.

In an SSL Review I focus on how realistic the scenes are (don't try and act like a woman's gonna come from a couple strokes of penis in vagina with no extra clit stimulation. I will slice your throat...or write a scathing SSL Review). I also like to discuss what I think those depiction or discussion add to the larger conversation about female orgasm or female sexuality.

Feel free to check more SSL Reviews for TV Shows and also for Movies.

So here we go.

S1 Ep1 (Pilot) Rub-a-dub-dub
To orient you, June is a sweet, optimistic character from Indiana (that's my state, ya'll - the one used often in movies and TV as a producer of naive, overly friendly, Midwestern-esque characters!) who just moved to New York and in with new room mate Chloe.  Chloe is a scheming, abrasive New York party girl that is trying to pull a hard con on her new room mate June.

June is in the tub, bubble-bathing it, and Chloe busts in.
Chloe: Hey how'd the job hunt go?
June: Uh I'd kind of like to be alone.
Chloe: Oh sorry were you masturbating?
June: What? No!
Chloe: Don't worry I get it. I have a long standing sexual history with that tub. I'm like Jessica Tandy and that tub's Hume Cronyn. Don't mind me. Get your Cronyn on.

June seems absolutely horrified. Later Chloe comes back to the apartment with James Van Der Beek (Dawson from Dawson's Creek and her BFF) and introduces June to James.
James Van Der Beek: I heard all about you June. So you like to rub-a-dub-dub in the tub?
June: (again horrified) What. No. Wait. Did she...She said that? Did she tell you that?

The story goes on from there, and we don't revisit that anymore in this episode, but we kinda do in episode 8. And she really wasn't masturbating. Chloe was just being a bitch.

S1 E8 (It's just Sex...) Busting into the Bathroom Again
Let's set the scene. June just spring cleaned the apartment. She's feeling good and Chloe has left on a plane to Europe. She gets in the tub with some music and bubbles. It's relaxing. It cuts to a memory of a really clean cut, fit blonde guy who was clearly waiting in line at the coffee shop where she works at some point. It cuts from her remembering him to her face in the tub. She has her eyes closed. She's relaxed and looking pleased. At one point she smiles and looks kinds dreamy. There are bubbles up to her pits, and we don't actually see her shoulders moving, but we kinda hear some flickering in the water. It's not crazy obvious since this is a network TV show, but it's still pretty obvious that she's masturbating (like we could easily assume she's gently moving her hand around in the general clit/vulva area). Then Chloe busts into the bathroom
Chloe: I missed my plane
She stops, and it cuts back and forth between June looking increasingly horrified and Chloe who slowly realizes what is happening. We see Chloe's expression change from suspicious to interested to knowing to incredibly proud.
June: (still horrified)  No. I wasn't!
Chloe: This must be how moms feel on the first day of kindergarten. Stand up and give me a hug!"
June: (shakes her head no in continued horror) 
It moves to the next scene. They are in the kitchen.
Chloe: (eating a corndog) Corndog, horndog?"
They talk for a minute with June asking Chloe why she's even here. Chloe explains how she missed the plane and then says,
Chloe: My little girl, learning to play the lady harp!
June:(huffs off)Chloe: So who was it? Who were you strumming to?
June: Nope. Nobody. Nobody..........Soy latte guy comes in every day and orders a soy latte, and I can see his abs through his t-shirt!
Then Chloe tries to get June to have casual sex. She actually does end up having causal sex with the soy latte guy, but then gets stuck in a relationship that Chloe gets her out of. In the end, June and soy latte guy part amicably, and say the following as they part
SLG: I'll still come in for my soy lattes.
June: And I'll see you in the tub!

My Thoughts 
So, in the first episode Chloe is actually trying to annoy June so much that she moves out of the apartment, and so the busting into the bathroom and accusing her of masturbating was obviously part of that. June was not masturbating, and so her indignation at the accusation could just be that. It could also be because, particularly for a woman, the idea that you masturbate is still pretty embarrassing. I think that is definitely also part of June's horror and indignation because June's character is supposed to be one of innocence and traditional values to contrast against Chloe's wild lack of morals. Chloe, however, unabashedly admits to masturbating in this scene.

So, to me, I think there are two ways of seeing what this scene adds to the cultural discussion of female masturbation.

One (the positive view): it's a discussion, which in and of itself acknowledges that women masturbate, and that's needed in pop culture. Men get to see the recognition that other men masturbate in TV and movies all the time, but it's much less common to see that for women, so anything to start putting lady-bation in scripts as much as boy-bation is good in my book.

Two (the negative view): June's horror about someone accusing her of masturbating paired with her every-girl, nice-normal-person character makes it seem like it really is horrifying to think of a normal girl masturbating. Chloe admitting to it only reiterates that point because she's not like June. She's supposed to be a bad whorey bitch of a woman who would freely admit to something as horrifying as masturbating. So, in a way, maybe this scene just reinforces the dichotomy of female sexuality...good girls are appropriately sexual within a loving relationship and bad girls are whores that masturbate and have casual sex.

I think there is an element in this scene of both these, but I think overall it's more One than Two. Particularly if we take a longer view of this series and incorporate the sorta follow-up scenes in episode 8 there is more of a positive every-woman-does-it vibe going about masturbation, and I like that.

In the later scene, we find that June does actually masturbate. Chloe, when she learns this, sorta acts as if it's a brand new thing for June, but it likely isn't. June's words at the end admits pretty clearly that she'll be masturbating to the fantasy of Soy Latte Guy in future tub visits.  I think June and masturbation are put into a different context than they were in the first scene. Before, it seemed as though she maybe didn't masturbate and was horrified at the thought of it, which kinda made sense with her personality that she wouldn't masturbate. She just wasn't that type of girl. However, in this second scene, she doesn't really lose the horror at someone thinking she masturbated. Her personality didn't really change. She's still a naive, nice, Midwestern girl that doesn't really like casual sex, but now we know even girls like her masturbate, and I think that helps send the message out into the world that just like men, it's safe and sensible to assume most women masturbate. That is good for normalizing female masturbation - which is good for orgasm equality, my friends.

As far as critiquing how realistic the physical things happening during the masturbation were -  well, it seemed sensible enough. She didn't get to the point of orgasming, so what she was physically doing didn't really need to be something that could sensibly cause orgasm. She was just starting, so she just needed to be doing something that would be arousing. Like I said above, we couldn't really see her arm moving, but it didn't seem like she was doing any pornified masturbation tropes like ramming things up he vag. It just seemed that there was gentle movement somewhere down there, so I'll assume she was rubbing her hand against her vulva/clit area, and that's very realistic for both getting aroused and even getting to orgasm eventually. So all good on the physical realism.

Vulva Rating
There was some ambiguity to me about if the first scene by itself more positively or negatively affected the cultural discussion of female masturbation and female sexuality. However, paired with the 2nd scene, I think it tipped the scales to the positive. I like that with what little indications there was of the physical things happening, it could be interpreted as realistic masturbation. I also like that it insinuated that even good, naive girls that don't want people to know about it, still masturbate. I think overall, it helps normalize the idea of women touching their own genitals and bringing themselves to orgasm. I'm giving this a 4 out of 5 vulva rating

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