Alex Liu wants to know more about sex. Specifically, he wants to know why him – and so many others – have been made to feel ashamed of their sexualities growing up in America. In A Sexplanation, the 36-year-old health reporter (who directed and co-wrote the documentary) enlists the help of family, friends and a collection of psychologists and researchers to get to the bottom of his burning questions about sex, which cover everything and more from masturbation, fantasies, religious guilt and the political divide that dominates these talking points.
With a healthy dose of humour and a large dollop of innuendo, this documentary provides a comprehensive, if fragmented, discussion of the state of sexuality and society in modern America. Viewers won’t come away with a deeper understanding of anatomy, but they will come out of this film with a new framework for approaching the questions raised.
The feature covers a tremendous amount of ground within its short 76-minute runtime. What begins with a slightly awkward conversation between Liu and his parents in their living room, eventually leads to a neuroscience lab and sex education classes as the film continues to provide exciting and different new ways of engaging with the topics at hand. And with the playful ways in which Liu approaches potentially uncomfortable subjects, the documentary reframes sex as a welcoming and positive topic. The takeaway message here is that there’s nothing to fear or be ashamed about when it comes to sex and sexuality. Rather, it should be a place of self-expression and new ideas.
As is usually the case when shorter films take on large undertakings such as this, there just isn’t the time needed for each section to be explored as much as it should. For instance, discussions about how US politics has impacted the nation’s perception of the supposed dangers of sex are by far this film’s most fascinating talking points. However, when each topic is afforded only a few minutes, it often feels like the filmmaker is barely scratching the surface.
Existing somewhere between a brief history of sex in America and a sex education video, A Sexplanation’s purpose is to challenge viewers’ perceptions about all things sex, and in that regard, the documentary is a success. It’s a funny, informative and genuinely insightful deep dive into all things sex.
A Sexplanation is released digitally on demand on 6th June 2022.
Watch the trailer for A Sexplanation here: