Hulu’s ‘Sex Appeal’ is an entertaining comedy-drama that focuses on the sexual adventures of Avery Hansen-White. Studious but sexually inexperienced, the teen gets ready for intercourse with her boyfriend, Casper, by creating a sex app for a STEM competition. Directed by Talia Osteen, the rom-com follows Avery’s journey as she practices intimate activities with her best friend, Larson, to collect scientific data for her app.
Unsurprisingly, Avery’s life quickly goes downhill once she realizes the truth about sex and her feelings. Amidst all the amusing chaos, the Osteen directorial carries a heartwarming message about the importance of self-discovery and the destigmatization of sex. If you’re looking for an explanation about the ending of ‘Sex Appeal,’ then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a closer look at this coming-of-age film. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Sex Appeal Plot Synopsis
The film opens with Avery onstage, getting ready to present her project at STEMCON 2022 (“nerd prom”). However, her voiceover states that the competition has become her worst nightmare. Then, we go back to almost a month before the competition, to get some context about Avery’s predicament.
Avery reveals that she has a record-setting GPA, an impeccable resume, and an early acceptance to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She also confesses that she is the reigning champion of STEMCON. Avery then finds out that the topic of this year’s competition is to make an app that solves a personal problem. Later, after talking to Casper, she realizes that he wants to have sex with her when they go to the competition.
Avery’s mothers — Mama Suze, Ma Deb, and Kim — realize that she needs help and try ridiculous ways to make her comfortable with the idea of sex. However, since they all are lesbians, they don’t exactly know what to tell her about having sex with a man. Soon, Avery realizes that Larson was right about her being a perfectionist and not wanting to do things she’s not great at. Thus, she creates Sex Appeal, an app meant to help her get good at sex.
Soon, Avery feeds the AI information from porn and Hollywood movies, but the results are disappointing. However, thanks to Mama Suze’s suggestion, she starts collecting data from her classmates. Eventually, she meets the “mysterious sex goddess,” Danica McCollum, who asks her to do kegels and get a “fuck buddy” for practice.
Quickly, Avery realizes that Larson can be her test subject again. In childhood, Avery would often scientifically experiment on him; she stopped when they were 14 because he tried to kiss her. Avery thus convinces Larson that she needs to try out sexual activities with him without any intimate feelings getting involved. She thinks their sexual arrangement will help her get ready for Casper and also provide data for the app. Although Larson is hesitant at first because he has a crush on a girl named Lyssa, he agrees to help his friend.
Soon, Avery starts practicing sexual activities with Larson. He suggests a hypothesis and says, “Love is what makes a good lover.” However, Avery, who is logical and scientific, dismisses Larson’s claim. Awkwardly, they start kissing and move on to fondling. When things get too intense, Avery decides to leave and wonders why her experiment is making her feel new things.
Then, 23 days before the competition, Avery decides to give Larson a handjob. He asks her if he can return the favor, but she leaves because she doesn’t know what she likes. She goes to Danica for advice; the older girl asks her to masturbate and use coconut oil as lube. Then, Avery has phone sex with Larson; she almost orgasms but the thought of Casper makes her stop.
After talking to her classmates and using math to figure out sex, Avery asks Larson to finger her. She has a wonderful time, orgasms quickly, and says, “Thanks, buddy.” Larson immediately looks sad; he then tells her that he hasn’t had sex yet because he’s waiting for the right person. Avery and Larson start kissing but she soon stops, stating that they need to be professional.
One day before STEMCON, Avery puts all the collected data into her app and gets it ready for the competition. Larson comes to meet her the night before she leaves; he also has two tickets for the local bioluminescence exhibition. However, she dismissively tells him that she went to the exhibition by herself and now needs time to get ready for her big day. Larson is hurt because she is self-centered and blind to his feelings; he quickly leaves.
Sex Appeal Ending: Does Avery Win STEMCON 2022?
On the day of STEMCON, Avery accidentally says that she’s excited about rocking Larson’s world instead of Casper’s. Soon, Avery and Casper go to his hotel room to have sex. She follows the app’s advice, but it’s obvious that there’s no chemistry between them. The next morning, Avery goes onstage for her presentation but decides to withdraw herself from the competition right after introducing her app. Clearly, she knows that the app doesn’t work and feels upset about the situation with Casper and Larson.
Thus, Avery doesn’t win STEMCON; instead, Casper and another girl become the new champions. However, surprisingly, Avery isn’t as upset about losing STEMCON as she is about her messed-up romantic life. Thus, we begin to see a change in Avery — she is now thinking about others whereas before she could only think about herself and academic success. Her decision to drop out of the competition signifies that she is learning to accept her mistakes and work on them.
Who Does Avery Have Sex With? Does She End Up With Larson or Casper?
We know that in the hotel room, the night before the competition, Avery and Casper try to have sex. However, despite following the app’s instructions, the two of them are unable to successfully make love. In fact, their dynamic is awkward and they end up accidentally hitting each other. Larson’s hypothesis is right — Avery is unable to have sex with someone she doesn’t love. Her relationship with Casper is purely based on their shared academic passions; in fact, the way the two of them express affection is by saying “I love your brain.”
Thus, Avery decides to abandon the idea of having proper sex and goes back to her room. It’s apparent that their relationship is over. At this point, we also know she’s in love with Larson and thus enjoys sexual activities with him. After STEMCON, Avery tells Larson how horrible her first time was. An upset Larson tells her that she doesn’t seem to feel anything or care about anyone. He then explains that after she friend-zoned him when they were 14, he spent the next three years trying to get over her. However, the sex experiment made all his old feelings resurface. Then, Larson says that he’s done thinking about the two of them.
Avery, still holding on to her stubbornly logical perspective, says that their relationship wouldn’t be practical because she’s moving to Massachusetts. Larson gets angry at the fact that she never considers the emotional side of things. He then says that she did the experiment on him and not with him, which shows how little she cares about his feelings. Larson finally states that he’s glad they didn’t sleep together, because it would have been a mistake.
Later, a miserable Avery is comforted by Kim, who asks her to think from Larson’s perspective and then “speak from the heart.” So, Avery crashes Larson’s band practice and declares that his hypothesis is correct. Lyssa watches as a shocked Larson takes Avery out of class. Avery reveals that she’s wearing a dress, says that she has feelings for him, and asks him to go to prom with her.
However, Larson rejects her prom proposal because he’s finally channeling some self-respect. He admits, using the example of the crocodile and the plover bird, that he cares for her and loves her for who she is but can’t be with her. Even though Avery says “I love you,” Larson walks away from her as he knows he can’t have a healthy romance with her. It is important to remember that before STEMCON, Larson had asked Avery to prom but she had laughed at the idea. So, it is definitely hard for him to walk away from something he has wanted for so long. Ultimately, Avery ends up single because of all this. Later, when she is crying, Ms. Carlson, the sexual education teacher, comes to comfort her.
Does Avery Go to Prom? Do Larson and Lyssa End Up Together?
Avery decides to change her perspective on life after her heartbreak and starts giving her emotional side more importance. She finally understands why Larson rejected her despite being in love with her and begins to appreciate healthy relationships with proper boundaries. In English class, she goes to Mr. Vemmer and says that she has reduced her grade because she now knows that she was wrong about her extremely objective take on ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ In front of Larson and the entire class, Avery admits that one needs to fail in order to learn (even though she hasn’t actually failed in English).
Then, Avery goes to Lyssa and tells her that Larson has a crush on her; the other girl is surprised because she thought the two best friends are dating. Avery clarifies that he’s single and asks Lyssa to make Larson her prom date. Thus, it’s obvious that the brainiac has now started to think about her loved ones and their feelings instead of focusing on just her own. She isn’t even bitter about Lyssa; in fact, the two of them have a pleasant conversation.
Thus, Larson goes to prom with Lyssa whilst Avery attends alone. However, instead of sulking, Avery has a good time with her classmates and dances happily. She is enjoying her high school experience, instead of simply dismissing it like she used to before. Avery watches Larson and Lyssa and notices their chemistry. It’s obvious that the two are going to date and be quite happy with each other. Indeed, Lyssa was interested in Larson all along but was unable to make a move because Avery kept interrupting them.
Towards the end of the film, Larson smiles at Avery, making it obvious that their friendship isn’t over and is instead going to take a much healthier route. In the end, Avery realizes that she cannot separate love from lovemaking or treat sex as a purely physical act. Plus, she comes to the conclusion that making other people happy makes her happy and begins her journey to become a better person. Maybe at MIT, Avery will finally get a chance to have good romantic experiences. However, it’s also emphasized that one doesn’t need to be in a relationship to be happy and fulfilled. Thus, Avery is likely to rock her world as well as that of academia by herself.
Read More: Is Sex Appeal Based on a True Story?