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Single and Ready to Mingle
Have you ever watched Grand Designs and wondered why they’ve never added some whips and chains to the bedroom? How about renovating the dungeon into a BDSM haven? Well, if you have then you’re in luck, because Netflix is here to fill that niche space with its own reality show, How to Build a Sex Room.
On the surface, this looks like another vapid, stereotypical show to try and satiate the masses into watching a gimmicky interior design series. And in many ways, that is exactly what this is.
How to Build a Sex Room does tease light bites of couple’s therapy, through its flirtatious exploration of kinks and an encouraging glimpse at being open with your partner, but we don’t see anywhere near enough of that. Instead, it’s all whipping, giggling and “ooh is that a butt plug?”
“People often see sex dungeons as this dingy, seedy thing.” Luxury interior designer Melanie Rose tells us early on, “I like to add a bit of class and style. ” And while the finished products may look good, there’s always that niggling feeling that the gimmick will soon wear off and the sex room will turn into an unused storage closet.
For anyone who has been with a partner and had a rough patch – sexually speaking – no sex room or kinky gimmick is going to help iron out the issues. A healthy relationship is all about communication and as we see from numerous couples on this show – that’s probably where they should start rather than reaching for the blindfolds and gags.
Episode 2 is a great example. Here, we see a couple with a small child. Melanie tells us that couples with young children need a sex room more than anyone else…without even thinking about how tough it actually is to be a parent in this climate, let alone having the space to build a room like that.
This sort of flippant remark will likely rub people such as myself – who live in small studio apartments – up the wrong way, especially as the camera breezes across these massive houses in flamboyant, elegant ways. Thanks cameraman.
In this house the dad has a huge seven-foot trampoline set up in his kid’s room and has cluelessly moved his son’s bed into their own bedroom… and then wonders why the couple don’t have sex.
Now, I’m no Hercule Poirot but the clues would lead to yeeting that trampoline out the back door, moving the little tyke into his own room and apologizing to his wife for having such an idea in the first place. I’d suggest paying for a relaxing evening away at the spa with her friends so she can be trampoline-free for a while.
Each episode is structured in much the same way, although the journeys do tend to spill over into different chapters, playing on the idea of cliffhangers to keep you watching.
The format features two separate couples looking to explore their kinks through building a sex room and hoping that will solve their sexual desires.
Melanie shows up, they talk a little about their history, go through Melanie’s “bag of goodies” and prepare for the next step. That includes the team crafting a sex room in a lavish empty space around their huge abodes.
In between the design aspect, we get cutaway notations (like Great British Bake-Off but with less cake and more handcuffs and whips) to explore what these couples are into.
There’s almost a nod toward history, but beyond one remake in episode 1 about the X cross, there’s disappointingly very little here. For example, did you know the Romans frequently had sex and used to do it doggy style. Or coius more ferarum. That’s Latin for “sexual intercourse in the manner of wild beasts.”
It’s a random fact but I can’t help but feel this show could have really benefited from playing with these little snippets and leaning more into the history and educational content, as well as the couple’s therapy aspect – rather than another questionable joke about Black men not liking handcuffs (yes, that’s actually a joke in this show.)
While there is joy to be had here, How to Build a Sex Room fails to stimulate effectively. Once you get past the sex gimmick (and my awful puns in this sentence), this is just like any other reality show with very little helpful advice for couples.
Unlike something akin to Marie Kondo, whose hints are actually super helpful, this is more like MTV Cribs: Sex edition. When the cameras stop rolling, no amount of whips and chains can save this one.
Verdict - 3.5/10