I watched the Netflix series Sex/Life when it first came out — oh, who am I kidding, I’ve watched it more than once — and so when I came across the book on which the series is based, I thought – the book is always better so I purchased it.
BB Easton’s memoir Sex/Life: 44 Chapters about 4 Men has very little in common with the Netflix series, though. While the series actually traces one woman’s very realistic mid-life crisis (and I don’t even know whether or not it’s fair to call it that because although she’s married with two kids, she looks like she couldn’t possibly be older than 35. Still – she’s definitely having a crisis), the memoir recounts the story of the author’s sexual awakening with four different men – one of whom is now her husband. None of the other three could realistically be the Brad of the series.
One thing the book and the series have in common is that, like the series, the author is looking for a way to kickstart her married sex life. She loves her husband, he is “at least ninety percent perfect” and although he is gorgeous, and kind, a wonderful father and provider, “self-deprecating and tolerant of [her] bullshit” – he’s kind of boring in the sack. In fact, he is often not interested in sex, like, at all.
This is what compels Easton to do a deep dive into her sexual past, and these reminiscences end up in a journal which her husband discovers and reads, and which seems to kickstart his libido. That’s also like the series. (Except in the series, she’s mostly talking about Brad and none of the three dudes she talks about in this memoir are him – at least I don’t think they are. There’s Knight, a local skinhead she meets when she’s a teen. Knight introduces her to BDSM and body piercings. There’s Harley, the stoner with no brains and a penis tattooed on his head, and there’s Hans, bass player for a local band. Perhaps Brad is some sort of amalgamation of all three of these characters, which is unfortunate because Brad is way more sympathetic than any of these three dudes.)
Easton’s memoir is often funny, definitely raunchy but, strangely, it lacks the introspection of the series. What I appreciated about the series, which did not exist at all in the book, was Billie’s tumble back into her past. She loves her life, but she feels that she is missing something essential – something that makes her feel like herself. I think lots of women can probably relate to that. You’re a mom, and a wife, and especially when your children are young, you make a lot of sacrifices. Billie wants to know why she can’t have it all.
The series is also angsty as hell. Yes, sure, Brad is a “bad boy” and he breaks Billie’s heart – but when he suddenly reappears eight years after their break-up, it detonates a bomb in her life — a bomb that was waiting to go off anyway. I think the series does an exceptional job of walking that line many women traverse. Plus, it’s as steamy as heck.
So, I guess I have to thank Easton for writing Sex/Life as it provided the source material for the series, but the series is just way better, imho.