Doctor Climax: Is the Netflix Show Based on a Real Columnist?

The steamy Netflix show, ‘Doctor Climax,’ delves into the world of 1970s Thailand when topics of sex were strictly forbidden and frowned upon. The story is told through the eyes of a skin doctor, Doctor Nat, as he begins writing a sex column to help people deal with their household relationships and break the taboo surrounding sex as a subject. Nat’s work and personal life get thrown into conflict as he gets involved in an office romance with a woman working at the paper, Linda. Their affair and Nat’s secret sex column threaten to upheave his relationship with his wife and his reputation as a doctor.

Originally titled ‘Dxktexr khilmæks pucchâ phâ seîyw,’ the creation of Ekachai Uekrongtham peers into the repressive attitude prevalent at the time regarding sexual acts. Doctor Nat’s column tackles a wide range of intimate questions sent in by readers of the paper, and he must break convention to answer those questions without hesitation. The show is an exploration of the comedic and intriguing elements that arise from sex and the forbidden passions that people feel fearful of trying out. Thus, the roots of ‘Doctor Climax’ become a compelling excavation as we dig deeper into its narrative and discover if it is based on a true story.

Doctor Climax is Inspired by Popular Sex Columns in the 70s

‘Doctor Climax’ is a fictional narrative inspired by real sex columns prevalent in Thailand during the 1970s. Tinnapat Banyatpiyapoj and Kongdej Jaturanrasmee crafted the show after conversing with creator Ekachai Uekrongtham. The latter shared with them the idea of utilizing a real sex question-and-answer column as an inspiration for a narrative that dived into the pleasures of the flesh but also the social restrictions governing the interactions. The writer-creator was influenced by reading samples of published letters floating around in the 1970s, later becoming the basis of his narrative and character, Doctor Nat.

At that time, the Daily News ran the most well-known sex column, ‘Sep Som Bo Mi Som,’ by Doctor Nopporn. But there were many more like Nopporn’s trying to break the stigma. When talking to Netflix, Jaturanrasmee said the columns were an interesting dive into people’s lives and outlooks back then. “They made for a really great read and also reflected many social issues from that time. That was when I came up with the concept of a doctor who answers questions about sexual issues, as well as the other characters, the column, and the publisher. Through this story, we can examine humanity and society, with nods to real-world events from that period,” he stated.

Even though the attitude towards sex has changed in recent times, co-director Pairach Khumwan felt that a dive into the past brought a new and fresh angle. The role of intimacy and sexuality in society is laid bare through the comedic adventures of Doctor Nat. While it is entertaining, it also presents deeper avenues of exploration and social commentary on attitudes and behaviors as a collective. Khumwan said, ‘Today’s viewers might wonder why a Q&A column about sex was such a big deal back then, but I feel this could be a refreshing and novel story. Doctor Climax not only entertains but also raises thought-provoking questions.’

Doctor Climax Digs Into the Social Restrictions Surrounding Sex

During the 70s, Thailand had undergone major upheaval through political forces. With the Cold War still in the air, people had a button-down and repressed attitude regarding their lives. No one was willing to step outside what had been traditionally set up. There were ropes shackling people to their societal responsibilities and norms. So, a prudish attitude towards sex was natural despite the fact that most people still held an underlying curiosity about the subject matter. It was the realm of spousal and household intimacy. ‘Doctor Climax’ depicts those attitudes while dismantling them throughout its narration.

Co-writer Kongdej Jaturanrasmee said it was part of the makeup of that generation of people. “People felt constrained by societal norms, yet simultaneously were striving to break free and assert their own freedoms,” he said. That sense of wanting to break out of one’s shell is portrayed through the protagonist, Doctor Nat.  The doctor feels trapped by the boundaries set by his profession and family and thus has forgotten what it is like to enjoy himself and have fun. Even the character of Linda, with whom Nat engages in an affair, is different, vibrant, and ready to explore liberties not afforded to women in the 1970s.

Through its characters, ‘Doctor Climax’ takes a view on asking prescient questions about social conventions that are structured around sex and sexuality. “Sexuality impacts individuals on a personal level, within households, and extends to society as a whole, so I think sex is a good tool for discussing the broader picture of society,” Jaturanrasmee further added. “Even though society may have become more open-minded, there are still a lot of issues that remain unchanged. I think that when we produce work that reflects the past, we should compare and contrast how things have changed up to this point.”

He concluded, “What needs improvement? What remains the same or lags behind? This can send a reflective message to viewers, allowing them to ask questions.” Therefore, while ‘Doctor Climax’ may be a fun foray into the hedonistic pleasures of sex and the hilarious situations that arise from the act, the show also takes charge of its subject by digging into more profound themes. It may be a fictional tale spun with an elevated concept, but it is based on sex columns run by newspapers that also strike a nostalgic chord about the 70s for its viewers.

Read more: Doctor Climax: Where is the Netflix Show Filmed?