The premise of Sex Box always sounded a little (ok, very) ridiculous. Real life couples get into some kind of assembled box and have sex, all the while watched over by an uncomfortable studio audience twiddling their thumbs and looking around nervously. Oh, and a panel of “internationally renowned sex experts” will also be present, presumably to assess their performance afterward. The aim of this, according to Channel 4, is to “reclaim sex from porn”, although how some couples having sex in a box on television has anything to do with that remains a mystery. When it came down to the actual broadcasting of Sex Box, the programme didn’t have quite the impact Channel 4 must have hoped it would.
The first couple are nice and normal; Rachel and Dean, an unremarkable pair of twenty-somethings. They enter the box, and that’s that. Although I’m sure no one really expected Channel 4 to put cameras in the box and literally reclaim sex from porn by actually making their very own porn, this didn’t make for especially fascinating television. Having done whatever it was that they did in the box, Rachel and Dean emerged to face their post-coital interview. All in all this felt more awkward than anything else; even the “sex experts” seemed uncomfortable and the conversation that ensued was hardly ground-breaking, with everyone concluding that communication is the key to positive sexual relations; no surprises there. The pair that followed Rachel and Dean, gay couple Matt and John, weren’t a whole lot more interesting; both couples seemed comfortable opening up about their sex lives to a certain degree on national television, but you can’t help but think they could have done that without the whole box gimmick thrown into the mix. Sex Box certainly wasn’t pornographic, but it was nonerotic to a fault, polite and awkward rather than groundbreaking or controversial, which is only really a fault when you consider that controversy was probably Channel 4’s main aim.