Sex With Brody—an advice show about sex featuring the sage guidance of none other than Brody Jenner, son of Caitlyn—begins Friday night on E! It is a kind of throwaway product, an afterthought of a TV show airing on a network in lucrative business with Jenner’s extended family. Why does such a show exist? Let’s consider.
1) Sex With Brody is a filmed podcast, and as such, is very cheap. Before it was enticingly/revoltingly titled Sex With Brody, it was The Brody Jenner Podcast With Dr. Mike Dow. For the purposes of turning it into a television show, nothing much has changed. (Perhaps Brody has put a little more effort into maintaining his stubble at exactly the length where it looks painted on. Then again, Brody being Brody, he was probably careful to keep it at that length before, what with every moment of his life being a potential photo and/or sex op.) Joining Jenner and sex doctor Dow is Stevie Ryan, a female comedian who seems to have been hired more for her varied sex life than her crackerjack jokes. The three banter back and forth about subjects raised by Dow, while sitting at a desk, wearing headphones, and doing the other visually scintillating things that people are known to do on podcasts. Sometimes someone leans back in a chair.
Sex With Brody is an inadvertent advertisement for podcasts, because it seems like it would make a much better podcast than a TV show—it might even be a moderately enjoyable podcast. As a podcast it wouldn’t be cut down into the short segments required by advertising. When a listener called in for help because her boyfriend won’t let her kiss him after she performs oral sex, perhaps the panelists would take the time to resolve the caller’s dilemma, instead of chortling that Brody has the same hang-up. Though, as far as podcasts go, probably you should just listen to Dan Savage instead.
2) Sex With Brody is Kardashian adjacent. Brody Jenner is a kind of Zelig of reality TV (or a Forrest Gump, if that is the generational referent you prefer.) The son of Caitlyn Jenner and Linda Thompson, he is Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, and Rob’s step-brother, and Kendall and Kylie’s half brother. For the last decade, he has been appearing as himself on reality TV shows that are not about him. (The exception is his very first reality show, Princes of Malibu, in which he and his brother Brandon starred, and where they presumably learned something about not starring in reality TV shows.) Brody has popped up in The Hills, as a male sounding board for Lauren Conrad (and occasional faux love object) and has been appearing on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and its relevant spin-offs, since 2007. Recognize that E! is basically just a delivery system for Kardashian-related content, and it becomes clear why the network would throw Brody a barebones show: It’s on brand, it makes some members of the clan happy, and it cost the price of a camera operator.
3) Sex With Brody is about sex. A show on E! may be a Kardashian birthrite, but, still, no one is giving Brody a show about cars. Sex With Brody is a kind of warmed over version of Loveline, with Dow introducing topics that Brody and Stevie briefly riff on. Instead of being a show that tries to inform its audience about sex, it is a show that tries to inform its audience about Brody’s sex life. Did you know, according to a study, people who use emojis have better sex? Did you also know, Brody doesn’t use emojis? (Study obviously suspect.) Brody also gets hard at massage parlors, no matter who is doing the massaging. And he had a fivesome once—that was no fun. Even Stevie’s sexual exploits play like a provocation for Brody and other heterosexual guys. Stevie, who is currently in a committed relationship with a man, is bisexual, and stories about her entanglements with women are an occasion for Brody to raise his eyebrows suggestively. Sex With Brody is accepting of and interested in all kinds of sex, but the one heterosexual guy on the panel is still going to act like a lascivious sitcom character when the subject turns to chicks pegging chicks.
4) Brody Jenner is our bro par excellence. In its most benign form, the bro is akin to a puppy: you aren’t mad at it for wanting to hump everything in sight. In its most alluring form, the bro is akin to a snake: You are a little curious to see it devour its next meal. Brody is exactly the right proportions of puppy and snake. He is both silly and expert, a seer into the mind of other bros and bro-wannabes. One segment of Sex With Brody has Mike asking Stevie and Brody to act as dirty talk translators: What does it mean, Mike asks, when a guy says “I think I have a condom”? Brody does not pause before convincingly explaining that it means the guy wants to go “meat to meat.” “You know if you have a condom,” he explains. (Rather than a sex show, Brody should have a show that helps people decode and then send text messages. It can air during the commercial breaks of Catfish.)
Performing a social type as perfectly as Brody performs “bro” is its own kind of elegance, and Brody has a douchey grace. His relationship to fame is a perfect tightrope walk. He always appears as the pretty grounded supporting player, enjoying the spotlight without ever risking getting burned by it. He is just notorious enough to get all the perks of fame, but not so notorious as to be constantly hassled because of it. He is happy to regale audiences with tales of his sexual prowess, but cool enough not to invite anyone into his actual bedroom. It’s all a very good look for Brody, but not a great one for a show.