You feel the heat rising, the blood vessels dilate, your breathing quickens and your pulse races — and that's all just from the sheer cringe of watching Gwyneth Paltrow and her team of sexological experts get all perky and chirpy about tackling sex problems.
Love, Sex & Goop is a six-part docu-therapy session on Netflix starring Gwyneth Paltrow, and a batch of experts who help a bunch of couples enhance their relationships through deeper intimacy and more pleasurable sex.
Gwyneth is, of course, the celebrity famed for pricey and weirdly-named candles and pricey sex dust. Her website, Goop, started out as a "homespun weekly newsletter" and became a commercial hit. The Goop podcast has passed 30million downloads. There is a Goop shop with everything from hair care to sunglasses to tea towels ($28 for 2 "essential waffle" towels since you ask) — and a fair selection of sex toys and the like too.
Anyway, the show opens with Gwyneth and her experts warning the couples and us that "it's probably going to be a little embarrassing and weird".
And boy, don't ever accuse Gwyneth of false advertising, cos she's dead on the money with that one.
From smiling and telling the men in the group that "you have total permission to have an erection" to brandishing a lobster-like red stuffed toy and announcing that "that's the whole clitoris", we've passed embarrassing and weird a long way back.
By the way, there should be no mystery as to the whereabouts of the clitoris — there's a grabber machine full of them at the funfair down the road.
If you're trying to imagine the vibe, think of those awkward tell-us-something-interesting-about-yourself team-building exercises fancy companies inflict on workers, and then imagine doing that without clothes, and you're on the right track.
Gwyneth, who looks amazingly toned and fresh by the way, says she has enlisted her friend and intimacy expert Michaela Boehm to help. She's a bit like the grandmother sex worker played by Barbra Streisand in Meet the Fockers.
The first couple featured is Damon and Erika. They are good-looking and rather nervous.
Damon then announces, "I'm more experienced than she is. Sexually I feel she is very conservative."
From the side-eye he gets from Erika, I'd say there was more off-camera fallout from that statement.
Damon's on a roll now and can't stop himself. He's talking about sex: "When I was a kid the worst thing about going to school was getting up in the morning to go to school. Once I was at school everything was good." What?
Erika's mouth is smiling but her eyes are not.
Jaiya the somatic sexologist takes over and gives them a quiz. It's an erotic blueprints quiz. Basically, it tells them what kind of sex they like — erotic, sensual, kinky etc. Surprise, surprise, Damon and Erika are a bit different. That's fine surely, they can work on it together. But then Jaiya announces that she likes the same kind of sex as Damon. Erika is looking daggers at this stage.
But Damon doesn't get off lightly as Jaiya has a bag of gadgets to introduce and suddenly his body language changes.
It's not clear if all these are from the Goop shop — but there are are 'Wolverine' claws, a wok-cleaner, and a cat-o-nine-tails. Jaiya does warn that there is to be no impact with the latter but it sounds like the claws and wok cleaner are fair game.
The other episodes look at a white older couple, Joie and Mike; lesbian couple Camille and Shandra, Dash and Sera who have been together a year and a half, and an Antiguan-German couple, Felicitas and Rama.
And every so often the camera cuts back to Gwyneth who says things like "the problems that arise are actually such amazing opportunities".
Gwyneth, who has recently turned 49, is of course also famous for bringing us the weirdly hilarious phrase 'conscious uncoupling' and that's what comes to mind after a bit more of the forced smiles and the fraught fun. Ah, the relief of a conscious uncoupling from the screen after this show.
- Love, Sex and Goop is available on Netflix now