Netflix’s ‘Sex/Life’ follows Billie’s colorful love-life life as it is turned upside down when it collides with the wild days of her past. The steamy whirlwind of a series tells the parallel stories of the present-day housewife with her ideal existence and her sexually adventurous past with her record producer ex-boyfriend. What essentially starts as a love triangle between a woman, her husband, and her past lover evolves into an intricate exploration of the many forms of female sexuality. Billie takes the audience on a turbulent emotional ride in ‘Sex/Life’ season 1. Let’s take a closer look at its many layers and see what we can find.
Sex/Life Season 1 Recap
‘Sex/Life’ opens with Billie reveling in her carefree younger days when she claims to have been with every kind of “bad boy” there is. For her, all the cliches about wild and promiscuous college days came true, and she enjoyed every bit of it. We then meet the present-day Billie, who seems to be living an equally idealistic domestic life many years on. Her loyal and hard-working husband, Cooper, has a successful corporate career, and they live in a beautiful house in the suburbs with their two children. However, after almost a decade of being married, the two lack intimacy, and though Billie loves her husband with all her heart, she cannot help but fantasize about her hunky ex-boyfriend Brad and their incredible sexual chemistry.
Billie begins recording detailed memories of her time with Brad and their many sexual adventures in her journal on her laptop. Cooper ends up reading the journal, which sets off an argument between the two that culminates in passionate lovemaking. Billie, however, is shaken up by Cooper’s sudden animalistic dominance over her and rushes to talk to her long-time friend Sasha about it. Things get even more dramatic when she arrives at Sasha’s apartment and finds Brad over there.
This sets off a game of cat and mouse between Brad and Billie as the former repeatedly tries to rekindle their relationship that ended almost a decade ago. Billie, who is mortified at the thought of cheating on her loyal husband and tries to dissuade Brad from following her, is nevertheless drawn to him and the adventurous excitement that he offers. Soon enough, Cooper becomes aware of something going on between his wife and her ex-boyfriend and is racked by jealousy. He finds solace in his boss, Francesca, who calls him the “full package” and that she would be happy to wait for him if he ever decided to get a divorce.
Cooper and Billie, however, decide to try and work things out and are subsequently taken to an orgy by their friends Trin and Devon. It is a new experience for the both of them, and they get close to finally enjoying each other physically. However, being watched by others makes Billie uncomfortable while Cooper tries to keep moving forward. Finally, frustrated, he agrees to an encounter with Devon’s wife Trin while his dismayed wife looks on.
Sex/Life Season 1 Ending: Will Billie and Cooper Get a Divorce?
The next morning, Cooper feels guilty about his actions and says that he has “stained” their relationship. However, he continues to blame Billie for their troubles. When he finally confronts Brad about pursuing his wife, Brad reveals to him that Billie always remained faithful and convinces Cooper that his wife only loves him. Cooper and Billie finally begin to work together to repair their relationship as Billie notes that stains can be washed out.
When it looks like they finally have some semblance of a happy marriage, Billie is once again haunted by flashes from her exuberant younger days. She realizes that the excitement that’s missing in her life cannot be ignored, and we see her running down the street towards Brad’s apartment. Unbeknownst to Billie, her husband is tracking her movements now and watches as she nears Brad’s neighborhood. The season finale closes with Billie entering Brad’s apartment and telling him that she’s not leaving her husband and that nothing is changing. She then asks Brad to make love to her.
So it looks like Billie has finally taken the plunge after trying to stop herself from taking it all this time. She finally gives in to her desires after listening to a talk by her friend Sasha and realizing that she cannot keep the thrill-seeking side of her personality hidden. It is a dramatic step by the so-far loyal wife that leaves her relationship in jeopardy after it was just recovering from its last upheaval involving Brad. We hear Billie’s side of the arrangement very clearly when she tells Brad that she is not leaving her husband and that nothing will change. However, she does not know that Cooper is following her movements.
Although Billie has shown that she can keep secrets from her husband, as she most likely plans to do now more than ever, Cooper finds it much more difficult not to immediately confront the truth. In the past, every time he has secretly read his wife’s journal, he makes no effort to hide his actions. Therefore, it is likely that he will confront Billie about her encounter sooner or later. Given the fact that Cooper has already considered leaving his wife and that he is attracted to his empathetic and openly available boss Francesca, it seems like this will be the last straw for him and Billie.
The only thing that might hold Cooper back from a divorce is his sense of responsibility towards his wife and children. He earlier said that he would be willing to leave Billie if he knew that she and the kids were cared for. However, since Brad doesn’t seem to be up to the job and since it is what makes the show so deliciously frustrating, Cooper is almost certainly going to remain with Billie. However, as we can already see, his character is now tainted by distrust of his wife, and the “perfect” husband might just be looking at the beginning of a new, much less idealistic chapter of his life.
Is Billie Taking the Third Way?
After the long and hard emotional battle that she fights, it seems almost inexplicable that Billie goes back to Brad, laying waste any chance of repairing her relationship with Cooper. Her actions are partly explained by the relentless flashes of her steamy times with Brad that she keeps having. Near the end, it also seems like she is hallucinating Brad when she briefly sees him at Sasha’s talk before he disappears. Billie, however, being a psychology major, also manages to intellectualize her decision through her friend Sasha’s talk about the “Third Way.”
Sasha, who is a celebrated psychology professor and author, describes in her talk how a person who seems to have found peace might just be repressing a part of their personality that then emerges as rage and pent-up frustration. To her discomfort, Billie realizes that the words seem to describe her. Sasha goes on to say that the goal for everyone is to find their true inner self and be that person, irrespective of how it makes others feel. This, in fact, exactly describes Billie’s state of mind at the end of the show, where she goes to Brad seemingly without any guilt about cheating on her husband.
Moments before, we hear Billie say that she refuses to give up parts of herself and that true freedom lies in announcing who we really are. It seems like Billie, in the end, has chosen the metaphorical “Third Way” wherein she follows her desires without worrying about her actions making people uncomfortable. Interestingly, she has also very clearly not picked a side between Cooper and Brad and has instead taken the third way that allows her to have them both, at least for the time being.
Has Brad Actually Changed?
Brad’s deep-seated character flaws that result in him hurtfully pushing Billie away multiple times are attributed to his relationship with his father. Sasha, who calls him “damaged goods,” repeatedly tries to convince her friend not to get sucked into a relationship with him again, saying that he will never change. In the past, Billie has also referred to his absentee father as the source of his fear of intimacy and even sets Brad an ultimatum to reconnect with his father if he wants to continue being with her. At that time, Brad breaks up with Billie and throws her out of the house in a fit of rage.
Many years later, while trying to woo the now married Billie, Brad tells her that he finally went and met his father. Billie is visibly moved and gets close to going home with Brad. However, she later changes her mind when Brad tries to move things forward a little too fast, proving that he is still his old, insensitive self. We do see Brad’s new persona, however, when he tells Cooper the truth about Billie’s unwavering loyalty. In a poignant twist, it is after Brad finally comes clean to Cooper (possibly his only selfless act the entire season) that Billie decides to cheat on her husband with him. Therefore, Brad does seem to have changed for the better. However, he has also gotten what his selfish past self wanted more than anything — Billie.
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