I am attracted to, disgusted by, and rooting for Doug Renetti (Jake Johnson) in equal measure.
That’s my biggest takeaway from this week’s episodes of Minx. Last week was all about introducing us to Joyce and this new world we’re entering with her, but this week we got some wonderful insight into Doug as a person, and I, for one, am grateful for it. And it doesn’t hurt that I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing Jake Johnson in 1970s costume – but, then again, I’m only human.
Doug’s motives are clear enough. He – along with Tina (Idara Victor), with whom he’s been working for ten years – strives for the same level of success and notoriety that Hugh Hefner found with Playboy. Minx Episodes 3 and 4 make clear that Doug will go to great lengths to legitimize his business in the eyes of others, which is why there’s so much riding on Minx’s success. He’s just like Joyce in that they both want to be taken seriously.
The first obstacle in Doug’s path this week occurs when the police raid Bottom Dollar Productions under orders from Bridget Westbury (Amy Landecker), a new councilwoman in the San Fernando Valley. When Doug pays this woman a visit, he realizes she won’t be as easily bribed as previous council members. Councilwoman Westbury has a vendetta against anything that she deems inappropriate, and is looking to stop a slew of businesses like Doug’s from prospering in the Valley. So Doug starts looking into, other even more questionable options to take Westbury down.
Johnson excels at bringing to life a man who, on the surface, is an incredibly sleazy opportunist but also cares about his employees and the people with whom he surrounds himself. Johnson plays Doug with great care, perhaps because he’s said that the character reminds him of his own father. And you could almost call Doug the Robin Hood of porn, based on him telling Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond), “I don’t steal…from people who don’t deserve it.”
It’s clear, however, that the person Doug cares about most is Tina. She brings out something in Doug that not everyone gets to see. It’s as though he wants nothing more than to be his best self for her. Given how long they’ve known each other, she sees through his act, even if she doesn’t always voice it. Johnson and Victor have great chemistry and play off each other incredibly well. It seems as though the rest of the season might see further challenges for Doug and Tina, and I hope their relationship withstands them.
Meanwhile, on Joyce’s journey to sexual liberation: The raid forces Minx’s publication date up a month, thanks partly to Richie (Oscar Montoya) saving the film from their photoshoot. When all of Joyce’s contributors pull their articles upon hearing about the raid, Joyce must pivot to fill the now-empty space in her magazine. She hopes to do repurpose some old articles of her own – but Richie, Shelly (Lennon Parham), and Bambi’s (Jessica Lowe) attempts to read them prove futile, given the far-too-academic tone of Joyce’s writing. The trio comes up with a solution: fun infographics, snappy headlines, and even a “match the penis to the model” game. [Can Screen Speck hire them? –John] Joyce feels these moves would cheapen the important work she’s trying to do with Minx.
And Joyce learns another lesson about compromise through her own interaction with Councilwoman Westbury. After praising Westbury for inspiring working women and becoming the first woman elected to the council, Joyce realizes that her values do not align with the Councilwoman’s. Indeed, sometimes the success of women isn’t necessarily good for all women. The interaction makes Joyce change her mind about the new ideas for the magazine, and, according to Doug, the new layout is the best one yet.
Joyce also takes another step on her journey toward sexual liberation and has her first casual sex encounter gone wrong. Doug holds a big press conference for Minx ahead of its release, which will include both Joyce as the editor and Shane (Taylor Zakhar Perez) as the first issue’s cover model. Shane isn’t very bright, so Joyce invites him over to teach him a few basic things about feminism before the press conference, leading to the two hooking up. In Joyce’s head, this is her first one-night stand, but Shane has other ideas and wants to date Joyce. Eventually, after a somewhat awkward press conference (only saved by Glenn [Michael Angarano] asking Joyce an actual question about the magazine), Joyce must express to Shane that she’s not looking for a relationship right now. In one of his funniest moments, Shane even goes so far as to use some of Joyce’s feminist teachings to express that he’s hurt Joyce only wanted to use him for his body. I enjoy watching Perez play a lovable himbo who is very sure of who he is and what he wants. He expresses himself plainly, and that’s part of what makes him so fun.
Things are sure to amp up for Joyce, Doug, and the rest of the Bottom Dollar team as Minx is released to the public –and I for one, can’t wait to see what else is in store.