Review by Tatiana Miranda
In David Zaslav's attempt to rebrand Max, the streaming service formerly known as HBO Max, many original shows from the streaming service met their untimely demise. From the teen drama Generation to the sci-fi dark comedy Made for Love, around 85 titles have been pulled from Max and, in many cases, lost forever due to streaming rights. Jake Johnson and Ophelia Lovibond's feminist comedy series Minx was one of the shows canceled by Max after its first season. The news came midway through production for the second season, and, luckily for the cast and crew, Starz picked up both seasons 1 and 2, both of which will begin streaming on June 21.
Minx tells the fictitious story of the first erotic magazine for women. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, the show centers around Ophelia Lovibond's character, Joyce Prigger, who longs to run a feminist magazine, and Jake Johnson as Doug Renetti, a low-rent porn publisher. Together they create Minx, a cross between Joyce's feminist writings and Doug's porn magazine background.
Along with Joyce and Doug is a diverse cast of characters that help bring the magazine to life. From Joyce's older sister Shelly to the publication's resident photographer Richie, each character has their own story of sexual liberation. Compared to season 1, season 2 focuses more on its characters rather than the magazine at hand, which is both a welcome surprise and a detriment to the original storyline.
Season 2 of Minx takes about halfway into the season to properly get into. Whereas season 1 focused on the magazine's beginnings, season 2 jumps straight into the height of its popularity. This change allows most of the focus to fall on the characters rather than the evolution of the magazine. Yet, it only partially shifts its focus from Doug and Joyce to the much more interesting background characters such as Shelly and Richie.
While Joyce and Doug initiate most of the conflict in the series regarding the magazine, including a Succession-style grasp for power toward the latter half of the season, the more intriguing character studies and social commentaries stem from the show's secondary characters. Shelly is dealing with the reality of her attraction to fellow Minx employee Bambi. Meanwhile, Richie longs for bigger and better things in terms of creative freedom, which tends to clash with the vision of the magazine's new backer.
The conversation of sexuality and underrepresented voices is at the forefront this season as the magazine's audience spreads beyond just heterosexual women. It's an intriguing discussion, yet its surface is barely scratched. Even during pivotal scenes, such as a police raid in a male-only bathhouse, the display of society's perception of homosexuality doesn't really affect Shelly and Richie long term.
Although season 2 of Minx ends on a high, with one of the best episodes of the series being the season 2 finale, it is still a lackluster addition to an otherwise unique series. With so much at stake for the show after its resurrection, the future of Minx looks less bright following such a disjointed season.
Season 2 of Minx premiers on Starz on June 21. All eight episodes reviewed.