Attempting to destigmatize the topic of sex using humor and honesty, Hulu’s ‘Sex Appeal’ is a comedy-drama film that focuses on Avery Hansen-White’s attempts to get ready for her first sexual experience with her boyfriend, Casper. Directed by Talia Osteen, the teen movie sees Avery using a number of unconventional ways to deal with her sexuality — from making a scientific app to practicing foreplay with her best friend, Larson.
Thus, the studious and career-oriented Avery gets ready to take on STEMCON 2022 with her sex help app named “Sex Appeal.” Naturally, many fans are wondering whether the competition and app actually exist. After all, high school STEM competitions are extremely popular and sex apps aren’t too uncommon either. So, is STEMCON a real competition? Is Sex Appeal a real app? Let’s find out!
Is STEMCON a Real Competition?
No, STEMCON is not a real competition. At the beginning of the film, we find out that Avery is the reigning champion of STEMCON, a prestigious national competition for high schoolers that takes place yearly. In fact, Avery met her boyfriend at STEMCON 2021; it is understandable why most people refer to the competition as “nerd prom.” Avery herself admits that the competition is the highlight of her final year of high school. Plus, winning the senior year competition guarantees a fellowship that “basically sets you up for life.”
We are informed that Avery is extremely intelligent and phenomenally talented — she has a record-setting GPA, an impeccable resume, and an early acceptance and full-ride to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Naturally, a national STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) competition is right up her ally.
STEMCON refers to a STEM convention, which is clearly a gathering point for those from specific scientific disciplines. Some of the most popular conventions in the world today are related to the fields of art and entertainment — comic cons and science fiction cons. Indeed, the way Avery and Casper fantasize about STEMCON reminds one of comic book fans getting ready to see their favorite artists and works at conventions. Undoubtedly, humans have always found a way to interact publicly about their shared passions. Moreover, STEMCON also seemingly alludes to Stemco, a renowned international olympiad.
The concept of STEMCON likely borrows from various high school STEM competitions around the country, such as the Future Problem Solving Program, Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, Modeling the Future Challenge, Congressional App Challenge, and the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair. These competitions are organized by reputed science and technology companies, the government, or prestigious colleges and universities.
Plus, high school students often have to travel to other states in order to take part in such competitions. Thus, it makes sense that Avery and Casper stay in a hotel for the competition. Additionally, such grand competitions are often held in large hotels and convention centers, becoming a meeting point for students, teachers, and professionals from STEM disciplines. We see this in the film as well — STEMCON 2022 is clearly being conducted at a fancy hotel, making it even more realistic. Avery’s obsession with STEMCON is also a way to highlight her initial inability to understand concepts outside of academia, such as love, sex, and selflessness.
In the coming-of-age film, over the course of a month, we see how Avery uses her knowledge of biology, sociology, coding, and mathematics in order to create an app that will help her solve her personal sexual problems and thus enable her to win the competition. Cheekily and also quite straightforwardly, she names her technological creation “Sex Appeal.”
Is Sex Appeal a Real App?
No, Sex Appeal is not a real app. Of course, there are a bunch of unreviewed apps sporting the same name, but that’s seemingly due to the fact that it is a simple and easy title that can quickly get users’ attention. Additionally, these apps, at a glance, do not seem to employ scientific methods. In the film, Avery gathers data from porn movies, Hollywood films, her mothers, her diverse classmates, and her own sexual experiences with Larson in order to feed information to the app and create a personalized solution to her intimacy problems. Interestingly, there are actual sex apps that help users with their sexual needs and decisions.
Apps such as Lover, Lioness Health, Lovely, and Ferly help users understand sexual pleasure, track their sexual drives, get personalized feedback on how to improve their sex life, and focus on mindful sex. Interestingly, some of these apps come with sex toys as well, encouraging people to explore their sexuality and pay attention to factors such as mood, mental and physical health, and lifestyle changes.
In fact, a sex app for couples called LoveSync was even pitched on season 11 of ‘Shark Tank.’ Most of these apps mentioned above deal with the occasionally awkward but also highly pleasurable and complicated nature of sex, highlighting that it’s necessary to have a healthy physical relationship with both oneself and one’s partners. Thus, Avery’s app is rather realistic — in fact, real-life apps are more advanced and ambitious than her own!