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Bonding Season 1 Netflix Zoe Levin Tiffany Tiff Chester Mistress May

Netflix released the new comedy Bonding on April 24, and it's already being -- wait for it -- whipped as misrepresenting the BDSM world.

Bonding stars Zoe Levin as Tiff Chester, aka Mistress May, a psychology grad student who works as a dominatrix by night and gets her gay BFF Pete (Brendan Scannell) to become her assistant.

The show was created by Rightor Doyle, who loosely based it on his experiences back when he was a recent college grad. He had a friend who had secretly become a dominatrix, and he needed some money, so she got him into assisting her. His job was often to accompany her as a witness to ensure her safety during house calls.

There are only seven episodes in Bonding Season 1, and each episode is under 20 minutes. But even at such a short first-season run, Bonding has already gotten under the skins of people in the real BDSM and sex worker communities.

Rightor Doyle posted an Instagram message to fans before Bonding premiered, and so far the response seems to be very positive. But there are a few people voicing concerns from a personal perspective, like commenter pathofsyns, who had this to say:

I understand how this show is loosely based on a personal experience but it does cast a bad shadow and stigma on professional domination. Would you be open to interviewing professional FemDoms to more accurately represent the community? The inaccuracies feed the stigma of bdsm & it doesn’t really show what the life of a dominatrix is like at all. Why is she a bitch 24/7? Why is she wearing a collar with an O ring? Why does her corset not fit her right? She doesn’t screen her clients? Her lifestyle slave causes problems? Why can’t he just be great & not obsessive? She has zero sensual clients? The lack of negotiation & consent? Come on, even loosely based there should be a better representation of bdsm in here.

Dominatrix Jessica Nicole Smith also weighed in (via IndieWire), not buying the defense that Bonding is just a half-hour comedy -- not a documentary or docuseries, or even a serious drama. It's not intended to depict the full realities of this world. Here's her response to that:

Don’t fucking write a comedy where you haven’t consulted sex workers clearly on the writing. No sex worker would write comedy like that. You want a funny comedy? Get a bunch of sex workers to write down the shit they talk about in strip clubs. Sex workers are fucking funny, you don't have to not include them to make a fucking comedy.

Those are not the only concerns voiced out there, you can find more frustrations -- alongside more praise -- on social media.

Rightor Doyle, also an actor known from HBO's Barry, told the New York Post the show tells a "highly fictionalized" version of his experience:

I'm not that interested in a show about me, but I'm interested in a show about what happened and what I learned. It was a great, wild entryway into exploring ideas of my own sexuality and the way that the patriarchy establishes what women and gay men are good for and what power is — and how people with less power can begin to subvert that in the sexual underworld.

He said he intentionally chose bright colors for the dungeon to subvert the common expectations on dominatrix culture, thanks in part to Fifty Shades of Grey:

We have so many things like Fifty Shades of Grey, like ‘Ooh, it’s sexy and it’s dark.’ Actually, what if it’s joyful and practical? What if we are not judging this thing visually?

And however his series is received, Rightor Doyle emphasized his overall intentions:

The important thing about the show, for me, is we are exploring this world but not exploiting it.

Bonding is now streaming on Netflix as one of the many new additions in April, with more to come in the rest of 2019.