Why Watching HBO Sex Scenes with My Mom Was Good for Me

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Funky spunk explained by mom.

HBO Go’s new viral ad campaign relies upon the fact that the very suggestion of watching HBO programming, which is known for its explicit sexuality and strong sexual themes, with parents is one of the most excruciating experiences one can feel in their adolescence. Marketing their instant streaming service, HBO Go, it promises a completely personal viewing experience, “far, far away from your parents.” And while some of the more tone-deaf parents among us might be the worst, most humiliating possible watching companions, I have to say that growing up watching raunchy sex scenes on TV next to my mom was one of the best things that could have happened to my sex life.

My mother first showed me Six Feet Under when I was about 14-years-old and I became captivated by the sex life of Brenda and Nate, the sweet romantic love making of David and Keith, and the especially graphic sex between Olivier and Margaret. I had watched these all snuggled up next to my mom on the couch, sometimes sharing the same blanket as we sat there on weeknights stewing in the drama of the Fisher family. I was with her when I first watched Claire Fisher struggle to have an orgasm throughout her many boyfriends and eventually achieve one through an unforgettable method called “grinding the corn.” “Sometimes it’s hard for a woman,” I remember my mom saying during the scene. I don’t think I responded, only nodded, taking it all in. Orgasms for women had seemed automatic to me, a non-negotiable up until this point. I took a mental note. HBO was entertaining, intellectually stimulating, and, as I was learning, watching HBO sex with my mom was going to be an education.

Then came my 15-year-old discovery of Sex and the City. “It’s a little naughty, but…” my mom had said before we began watching a random Season 4 episode. It was the same, “You might be young for this, but…” that she had applied to my whole upbringing. That first privileged look into the adult world came in the stream of “fucks” I was allowed to sing along with when Alanis Morissette played in my mom’s minivan. The quips of Samatha Jones were gateways to other conversations with my mom.

It was the episode where the idea of “funky spunk” was first introduced that I really began to analyze the adult world of sexuality with my mom. From my mom’s alternating “oh my god”s to her uproarious laughter, I could tell swallowing bad tasting semen was not only relatable, it had maybe even happened to her. At 15 or 16, you’re worried about what a blowjob is and how to give one, you don’t process the mechanics and surprises that could come with shoving a dick in your mouth. “Do you give oral sex?” my mom had asked me shortly after we watched that “funky spunk” episode. I was emptying the dishwasher and bending over to clear out the utensils and my eyes widened. “No,” I said truthfully. It wasn’t coming from nowhere, it was coming from a place bridged by Samantha blowing a Worldwide Express guy, Richard Wright’s sushi-eating habits, and Charlotte’s dates with Mr. Pussy.

Maybe I can accredit this to my mom’s patented liberalism or the fact that I was a child who knew what a condom was by age six, but something about those HBO nights with my mom, the feeling of illicitness, intimacy, and vulnerability paved the way for unscientific and honest post-show sex talks. Sure, of course I was a little humiliated, but looking back, I would have missed out on something if I had just stolen away to my room with an HBO Go password. We weren’t talking about STDs, we were talking about rim jobs and giggling at them girlishly together. I was able to see my mom as a human who enjoyed sex and she was able to see me just the same, a human who was going to enjoy sex – and who would be prepared when the spunk got funky.

Image via HBO.

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