FILM THREAT: WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT A SEXLESS MARRIAGE?
June 15, 2023
While the concept of a “sexless marriage” dates back at least as far back as the early 1900s, the term seems only to have gained traction in the mid-1990s after the publication of the book The Social Organization of Sexuality. In it, the authors define a “sexless marriage” as less than ten instances of sexual intimacy in a year—a metric that persists nearly 30 years later in both sex research and self-help books. However, while sexual frequency and happiness have been scientifically linked, there does not appear to be a clear causal link between the two. In other words, while happier people might have more sex, simply increasing the frequency of sex doesn’t make people happier. In fact, it makes them less so.
Nonetheless, the perception that too little sex is a problem to be solved persists — and so do the comedies of married folks trying—and largely failing—to get it on. In The End of Sex, Josh’s younger (and flirtatious) colleague Kelly pops over to give him a sex quiz, asking him how frequently he and Emma have orgasms—once a day, twice a day, three times a day, or “constantly in an orgasmic fog.” When he questions the minimum being once a day, Kelly asks him if he has sex once a week, to which he uncomfortably responds, “Yeah, I mean, that sounds about right.” After she leaves, he takes the magazine to perform the quiz and scores a negative 83 points.
Meanwhile, Emma runs into Marlon, a former friend from art school who has a crush on her and makes no secret of it, which launches her into fantasies that don’t include her husband. But Josh and Emma love each other and are “great parents together,” so they agree the best way to solve the problem of their “mechanical” sex is to “surprise” each other. Over the course of the week, they try a threesome, a sex club, and ecstasy, all of which result in comical situations but not the deed (or at least its culmination). The threesome completely excludes Josh; they make some awkward discoveries about the sexual practices of Emma’s parents, and they get so high that they temporarily lose sight of their goal altogether. There are some laugh-out-loud moments here, and the comedy takes us into territory not often treaded in the sex comedy genre.
Still, it is not quite no-holds-barred. The End of Sex ventures close to poking fun at sex outside of marriage, which would have certainly been groundbreaking. In fact, statistics show that 25 percent of married men and 15 percent of married women have extramarital affairs. Of course, that reality apparently, at least for now, is still no laughing matter.