Synopsis: The third 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 third season’s eight episodes were all written and directed by women.
Bliss: Season 3 7.25
eyelights: its racial and gender role diversity. its female-driven production.
eyesores: its rudimentary sensuality. its low-budget quality.
“Because I said I would. Because I knew I would.”
Having watched the first two seasons of ‘Bliss‘, I knew that I would someday track down the third and final season of this Oxygen Network erotic anthology. It’s not that the series had been stellar (it’s marred by cheap-@$$ production, and inconsistent writing and performances), it’s just that I love that it’s been made by women for women.
As a feminist, I like that. I like getting an alternate perspective from the usual fare.
Especially where erotica is concerned.
I finally found a DVD copy and paid a small fortune for it; I have no idea if the show was broadly released on home video but whoever was in charge of distribution didn’t make it easy. Further to that, the copy that I got is a “promotional copy” and it reminds you of this on screen from time to time during the program. Could be worse, I guess.
Anyway, it’s a small price to pay to see the show.
As with the previous seasons, the 2004 season consists of a mere eight episodes and all of them are written, shot and produced by women. This time, however, the episodes are clearly set in Montreal, which is referenced in the scripts. It couldn’t be more clear that it’s a low budget Canadian production, which explains its quality.
I had forgotten that the previous DVDs were released with a different running order than what was originally broadcast. It’s the same thing with this set: for some inexplicable reason, the DVD opens with the sixth episode, and then jumps back and forth. Thankfully, the quality is consistent enough that it didn’t affect my appreciation.
Here are the episodes in their original broadcast order:
1. Tango: Beatriz is a top accountant from Buenos Aires restarting her life in Canada. When she moves into her new low-rent apartment, she meets Luiz, her handsome neighbour. They are immediately taken with each other, and she goes to see him perform in a tango club – despite her reservations, having heard another woman in his apartment next door. But it doesn’t stop the pair from flirting and eventually getting it on.
What I liked about this one, aside from the pair’s natural beauty, is how willful Beatriz was: she didn’t let herself get played and took charge of their dynamic. The best part is at the tango club, when she decides to dance with his dance partner, whom she assumes is the woman she heard next door, and he decides to mirror her by dancing with another guy; it was playful and boundary-pushing. Ultimately, the dancing and sexy bits were enjoyable, but her erratic ways could be irritating. 7.0
2. Penelope and Her Suitors: This one was fun. Penelope is moving into a new house, and eyeing all the movers like a kid in a candy store. But it’s the cable guy who really catches her attention; having flirted lightly, she decides to book another appointment and asks for the same guy. This time they make out. They begin an affair that revolves around the appointments she books with his company.
She’s adorable, he’s handsome, and they have a nice chemistry, but the staging was awkward. But I did like that Penelope was her own person, was fulfilled as is, and didn’t need a man in her life – just in her bed. And she didn’t even want to know his name. There’s nothing wrong with that model and it’s a nice change. 7.5
3. Tying Up Gerald: Mireille comes home early from a business engagement to find Gerald, her spouse, strapped to a table, under the control of Victoria, a professional dominatrix. Shocked, this rocks her faith in their relationship. But she tries to understand and secretly visits Victoria, asking for the same services. Taking a liking to it, she decides to take lessons from Victoria and proceeds to incorporating this in her sex life with Gerald.
It was an okay episode, but I found it a bit simplistic: when caught, Gerald immediately called off the BDSM relationship he craved and, when under Victoria’s paddle, Mireille dug it right away, moaning with abandon. Hmmm… right, it’s a fantasy. But it’s all a bit silly. 6.75
4. Badness: Donna is a well-respected law professor who bumps into John, her idol, at a legal conference. They’re attracted to each other, but the profession doesn’t permit them to mingle. At night, she’s woken up by the sound of one of her student fraternizing with one of John’s own in the bathroom. Though John scolds them rightly, she offers a compromise solution and eventually seduces him – only to eventually get caught together under the judge’s bench.
This one smoulders mildly and the pair are pretty, but the episode suffers from the format and production. 7.25
5. Amazon: Romy is a goaltender for a women’s hockey league. Frank manages the rink that her team plays in and doesn’t miss any of her matches, watching her with admiration. One evening, after a game, Romy is convinced by her friends to ask him out. She shows him how to play pool, but is upset when he chats up another woman at the bar. The next time she’s a dick with him – but she turns on a dime when he explains himself. Then he tells a joke and she turns again. She and her friend keep calling him a jerk for some reason, adn yet she’s consistently drawn to him and they keep making out.
Romy is moody as !@#$, Jessico Greco’s performance is stiff, the dialogues are awful, and the hockey scenes were poorly cobbled together. I did like that Romy was more like a dude than a girl, though. And the sight of those hockey leggings in lieu of stockings was pretty hot. But, otherwise, this was painful to watch. 4.75
6. The Arrangement: An independent woman of Indian descent finds herself trapped into meeting with the man her family has arranged for her to marry. She goes to the chaperoned appointment to satisfy her parents, knowing that there’s no interest; she’d promised herself never to date an Indian again. When she meets Davinder, she’s oppositional – and rightly so, as he tends to have more traditional views of dating. But he gradually softens her stance and they eventually make out in the restaurant’s kitchen. They argue when they’re caught by their chaperone, but he comes over later to explain himself and discover they have more in common than previously thought.
The pair were attractive, the exoticism of the Indian restaurant was appealing, but what I liked most was that she was a strong-willed, intelligent (she’s an astrophysicist!), self-defined Indian woman. Nice. 7.5
7. Les petits mots: Alice is a DJ preparing for an upcoming rave. Mesmerized by the hands putting books in the storefront display of a local bookstore, she goes in to meet and flirt with the shop owner. Having not slept for 48 hours, she falls asleep in one of the shop’s chairs. When she wakes, they spend time together and find that they have conflicting values: he like silence, she can’t spend a moment without loud music, he’s into the simplicity of books, she believes technology connects people, …etc. But they’re attracted to each other and start connecting threads.
This one is for book lovers as it primarily takes place in the book store, but there are interesting discussions about internal and external life. As for the sexiness of it, it’s as lovely as the two pretty stars are and it has a few sensuous moments. 7.25
8. Steph’s Life: Steph has set up an online camera in her kitchen for a sociology project. She’s curious to see how many people will stream her cleaning the kitchen. When Andrew, her boyfriend and technical advisor, tells her that she’s predictable, she translates this as “boring” (um… did she actually believe that cleaning would stimulate audiences?) and feels compelled to prove him wrong. So she begins to sex up her broadcasts. This turns Andrew on and they have an extremely potent sexual encounter. She wonders if the excitement of being on camera amplified their experience and they begin to explore this concept – despite his initial reservations.
It was a cute episode, but the exhibitionism vs voyeurism thing wasn’t anything new. 6.5
One thing I found very interesting about this season, and which I might have overlooked with the previous ones, is that the men are all super well sculpted and, in many cases, completely hairless – you know, to better show off their ripples. Nothing wrong with a little eye candy. And it’s only fair, given that women have been objectified for ages.
But I wasn’t as taken with this season as with previous ones. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, but it felt more run-of-the-mill than the previous ones – though I appreciated the fact that the women were strong female characters and were of diverse origins; I like that at least it provided audience with a larger variety of role models.
Still, it was time to call it quits, as far as I’m concerned. As much as I like the concept of the series, I feel that it ran out of steam (!). And the fact that it never escaped the confines of its low budget roots became tiresome; it would have been nice to find potent performances, sharper dialogues and more creative filmmaking. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.
But I hope that it can be a starting point for another, more fleshed out, series in the future.
I’d certainly tune in for it.
Dates of viewings: May 4-7, 2017