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In middle school and high school, everything about sex is fascinating. The actual act itself is a conversation topic of the most stimulating order, but eventually, that sense of wonderment starts to fade. Somewhere along the line, sex becomes a lot more complicated. It becomes about more than just penetration. That's why most of us don't watch pornography all the time. Sex without baggage, as it's presented in most adult material, lacks importance. It's an escape into a fantasy world of faceless implants and on-cue erections. Now and again, that fool's paradise can be refreshing, but generally speaking, it's hallow and lacking, like a preseason basketball game. Sex with consequences though, is something entirely different. Most of us will listen intently as our friends recount lurid bedroom tales because we can put a face on those encounters. We're emotionally invested in the lives of our friends, lives that usually include sex, just as we're invested in the lives of celebrities. There's a reason why millions of people have seen the Paris Hilton sex tape and not the fiftieth installment of Girls Gone Wild. Sex is just more interesting when there's a reason to give a shit, and Brooklyn Kinda Love is one long reason to give a shit.
Playboy's newest reality show has more in common with a gritty, late night HBO documentary than any obscene adult material you may have stumbled upon on Cinemax. It makes sense considering the minds behind Brooklyn Kinda Love were responsible for the award-winning Taxi Cab Confessions, but still, it takes awhile for that notion to really stick, probably because all the teasers underscore the seriousness much in the same way trailers for good movies frequently dumb themselves down to attract simple-minded sixteen year olds hellbent on seeing cleavage and fart jokes. Brooklyn Kinda Love may have its share of cleavage, but more than that, it's a frank and frequently thoughtful dissection of four relationships soaring and floundering amidst the strain of unfair wants and unfulfilled needs.
To agree to participate in a reality show like Brooklyn Kinda Love takes a certain kind of person, and because of that, it's unlikely any of the four relationships will directly mirror your own. They certainly don't have a lot in common with mine, but somewhere in each of them, there's enough familiarity and honesty to relate. All eight of these people are flawed, lovable human beings trying to make things work. Some of these relationships will fail. The cracks and strains are obvious to an outsider, but within those couplets, there's a hope and determination to struggle for love. Even within the ones that do work, there are issues to resolve. That's life. Mike and Carol Brady are dead, replaced with millions of George and Weezie Jeffersons. Maybe that's a good thing.
I suspect the majority of viewers tuning in to see Brooklyn Kinda Love will be voyeurs, curious to see how the show will depict the more intimate encounters of these couples. That's perfectly natural but also a shame. Sex is just one facet of a relationship, and Brooklyn Kinda Love is about relationships, relationships that do include sex. Mostly though, they're just about two individuals ebbing and flowing as they smile, cry, bond, laugh, get jealous, argue, make up, and look for someone to understand.
The subject matter here is graphic, but no more so than real life. In fact, most of the more heartfelt moments having nothing to do with fucking. One couple argues over anti-depressants, another struggles with fleeting fame. On and on it goes. Infidelity, same sex attraction, pasts, futures, goals, pregnancy, children. Nothing is off limits, and that openness is strangely refreshing. In a perfect world, Brooklyn Kinda Love would probably contain less actual sex, but in a half hour reality show aired on Playboy, that's probably too much to expect.
Brooklyn Kinda Love is very good. It's not great, there's still a few kinks to work out, but it's engaging, entertaining and strangely addictive. It gave me a reason to give a shit, and if you watch, it'll give you one too.
Brooklyn Kinda Love premieres Saturday January 15th at 10 PM ET/PT on Playboy TV.