Amanda Holden’s Sex: A Bonkers History – Entertainment Over Education
In the new series, Sex: A Bonkers History, Amanda Holden claims that “sex is the great common denominator that unites us.” However, this self-proclaimed “barmy” show fails to deliver the high-minded exploration of sex through the ages that viewers might have expected. Instead, it resembles an hour-long TikTok video, lacking depth and substance.
The Ancient World: Spartan Women and Olympic Sports
The first episode of the series focuses on “the ancients,” covering sexual history from Rome to Egypt. While the show intended to start in Sparta, budget constraints or scheduling conflicts prevent Holden from traveling to Greece. Instead, she presents from Crystal Palace athletics stadium, attempting to learn about Spartan women and their involvement in sports such as javelin, discus, and wrestling—all while wearing a toga. Nevertheless, this segment fails to establish a clear connection to the topic of sex.
The Feminist Triumph of Spartan Women
The show tries to portray Spartan women as empowered figures, highlighting their physical strength and participation in sports as a means to bear strong and useful children for the Spartan army. However, this narrative overlooks the grim reality of women reduced to mere baby-making machines and the mention of “paedophilic relationships” among Spartan men. Rather than addressing these uncomfortable aspects, the show glosses over them with superficial comments.
The Ancient Egyptians and Their Strange Contraceptive Methods
Next, the show explores the ancient Egyptians, with Holden donning a Cleopatra wig and taking a bath. Her co-presenter, Dan Jones, expresses his frustration that history teachers often skipped discussions about ancient Egyptian’s attitudes towards sex in favor of focusing on mummification and pyramids. The episode includes a cringe-inducing moment where Jones recreates an ancient spermicide recipe using pig semen. The show fails to provide substantial insights into why the ancient Egyptians resorted to such methods beyond contraception.
From Slut-Shaming to the Kama Sutra
The rest of the episode follows a similar pattern, with rushed discussions on various topics such as slut-shaming, Roman empress Messalina, and the Kama Sutra. While these subjects are intriguing, they are presented in a hasty manner, interspersed with insufferable moments of Holden and Jones making inappropriate jokes about penis size in front of a greenscreen. The show fails to delve deeply into these topics, leaving viewers craving more substantial exploration.
A Missed Opportunity for a Sexy and Educational Experience
Sex and society’s attitudes towards it are complex and fascinating topics, as shown in Mary Beard’s Shock of the Nude, a 2020 series exploring the same subject through art. Sex: A Bonkers History falls short of its promise to take history seriously. It opts for a base-level presentation, using cucumbers and tragic skits like “Blindicus Datus” to maintain a light-hearted and frivolous tone. While the show promises nudity, occasional swearing, and lots of sex, it fails to deliver on the excitement and titillation it suggests.
Amanda Holden’s Potential as a TV Personality
Despite the show’s shortcomings, Amanda Holden proves herself as a capable presenter, stepping out from behind the Britain’s Got Talent desk. She possesses glamour, a willingness to have fun, and the ability to engage in charming and witty conversations—qualities that make her a promising TV personality. However, Sex: A Bonkers History’s attempt to tackle a complex subject matter with a wink-wink nudge-nudge style falls flat, reaffirming Mary Beard’s expertise and leaving viewers longing for a more insightful exploration of sexual history.