Synopsis: The second season of the Award winning Oxygen Network series, presented in its original full-length un-edited versions. Bliss explores the desires, passions and fantasies of women. The second season s eight episodes were all written and directed by women.
Bliss: Season 2 7.25
eyelights: its female perspective on erotica. its original/unique tales.
eyesores: the poor production. the caliber of actors.
Bliss is a series that I discovered at my local HMV many years ago. They only had it in a French-dubbed version, bizarrely enough, so I didn’t pick it up. But it had always remained on my radar, as any erotic show that has been written and directed by women would – it’s not just the erotic nature of it, I like the idea of seeing a totally different perspective on erotica (as opposed to Hollywood or porn’s versions of eroticism).
This was produced for the Oxygen Network, a women-focused cable channel. What’s great about ‘Bliss’ is that, no doubt due to the fact that it was written and directed by women, the fantasies were geared towards women more, the people looked real and the situations were often more realistic – although not so mired in reality that they were sobering.
Bizarrely, this particular DVD (which, I discovered after the fact, is a promotional copy) had the shows in a completely different sequence from how they were originally broadcast. Its unfortunate because it changes the flow of thìs very short season and it kind of skews one’s perspective on the series as a whole. I will comment on the episodes individually, in their original broadcast order.
1. Three: The story of a trio of friends, a woman and two men, who live together and can’t seem to get their love lives in order because what they long for is each other. This is all instigated by the woman, of course, the guys being somewhat hesitant; she has to talk them into it and ease things between them. It’s somewhat like ‘Threesome‘ but without the humour and the sober ending. It is a fantasy, after all. 7.75
2. Nina’s Muse: I really enjoyed this one because it was unconventional. It’s about a woman photographer who starts spying on her gay neighbour and takes pictures of him with his many lovers. I liked it because I have known women who find gay sex titillating, so I know that this is not a far-fetched concept. Just the fact that the show would dare to show this as a fantasy gives it extra points; it’s a bold move, and it’s likely novel for television. 8.25
3. Cat Got Your Tongue: This one’s about a single mom who gets the hots for her son’s best friend. I liked this one because it played with the taboo of spring/fall relationships and the boundaries one would normally put up between the parental figure and a child’s friends. Again, it’s a fantasy, but one would have to admit that the thought would likely cross one’s mind in a similar situation – much like the reverse would for your best friend’s mom or dad. As a side-note, the mom reminded me vaguely of Pascale Bussière – she would have been perfect for the part. 7.5
4. The Marvellon: A lesbian couturière who only hangs out in femme circles meets a bold butch. Despite being shunned by her closest friend, and being uncomfortable with this other way of being, she is nonetheless attracted to the young woman. The key problem with this short is the direction and the acting. There were consistent continuity issues like the butch’s tattoos disappearing and the dance floor dancers changing all the time. As for the actors, the lead made me think of a taller, older Bonnie Bedelia. The best friend was terrible, unable to deliver a line naturally, and the butch was just blurting each of her lines. Awful stuff. 7.0
5. Chastity: This is the story of a woman on the edge of making her final vows to be a nun. She works in a school (or a community centre… not sure) and struggles with her attraction to a colleague she’s friends with. I couldn’t feel the heat much, to be frank, but I did like the overall concept: on the one end, it’s a safe fantasy, which might suit some people; on the other, the idea of being converted, of being drawn away from one’s focus or responsibilities might speak to others. 7.0
6. Office Management: This episode is about a Jane Fonda-esque business woman who can’t seem to find a long-term partner who doesn’t get all emotional or lovey-dovey. She is all business: all she wants is to have sex by appointment, on her own terms. Then she meets an office techie who challenges her convictions. I loved that this story gives permission to women to be more like traditional men, to want and desire sex for the pleasure of it – and to act on it. I don’t think there’s just one way to be and this arrangement might work for busy women – so why not? I wasn’t so keen on the ending, which blurs the lines, but it’s an otherwise good fantasy. 8.0
7. The Piano Tuner: A lonely woman in a loveless marriage falls for her piano tuner. This one is slightly melancholic, as the woman (who reminded me of Susan Sarandon slightly) longs for days long gone and is concerned with her aging body. What this story does, by making the piano tuner blind, is to make the woman comfortable in her own skin – he is attracted to her for completely different reasons and absolutely loves her present-day softness. I enjoyed this notion, that they got an attractive woman with a small belly instead of a gym addict, and made it real. 7.25
8. Aural Sex: This one is about the relationship of a radio show host who reads sexy fan letters on the air. His live-in girlfriend wants to get a peak inside his head but he won’t let her in. However, she persists and she breaks through his defenses. It’s a great story, but it’s mired by god awful acting on the guy’s part. Not only was his reading of the letters utterly horrible, but he couldn’t deliver a line worth his life. It’s too bad, because it could have made for an excellent episode – it made the woman the catalyst for the passion between them. Oh well. 7.0
All in all, I liked the idea of the series enough that it overcame all its flaws – which were mostly the frequently terrible acting and the cheap-o productions. I love that it’s made by women for women, but that it doesn’t necessarily exclude men. I love that it also covers all sorts of fantasies from all angles.
It’s hardly surprising that each season is so short, and that it only lasted three season, though: not only must it have been hard to keep it fresh, but it looks like it might have been a challenge just putting it together. Keeping it on the air would have been difficult to the utmost.
Having said this, I will no doubt seek out the first and third seasons. I want to see what else this series had in mind, what other teases it had in store for its audience.
Date of viewing: January 18, 19, 22 and 27, 2013