Up Next

Television

‘Survivor’s Remorse’ recap: Between ‘Insecure,’ ‘Girls Trip’ and this episode, 2017 is the summer of unlikely sex ed

But for the love of God, don’t call it ‘deadbugging’

Season 4, Episode 4 | “Feel Free to Comment” | Sept. 10

This summer marks the onset of a new wave of sex education via mass media. Thanks to Girls Trip, Insecure and Survivor’s Remorse, I’m learning about A) hangups from 1997 that are apparently still a thing; and B) acts I was not aware were real or had names.

In Column A, we have Insecure, which is attracting more negative attention than usual after a conversation between Issa and her friends about oral sex. It ended with an odd, outdated takeaway that stereotypes black women as sex-negative: If you don’t do it, there’s a white girl who will.

Survivor’s Remorse and Girls Trip land firmly in Column B, and I say this as a red-blooded American feminist who considers herself sex-positive and well-educated thanks to public servants such as Dan Savage and Tristan Taormino. Where are the grapefruiting, deadbugging masses? Until 2017, I’d not heard of either.

In Girls Trip, actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish explained “grapefruiting,” a method of using the fruit as an aid in oral sex. Haddish’s demonstration left me in stitches. But after I recovered from my laughter, well, here’s a glimpse at my inner monologue: For the love of God, who is doing this? Citrus shouldn’t go anywhere near your junk! How does that not sting like mad?!?

And then the Survivor’s Remorse writers saw Girls Trip and said, “Hold my beer.”

Cam (Jessie T. Usher) is back in Atlanta and strolling through town with his girlfriend when the two of them are approached by three women. Cam they recognize instantly. And Allison (Meagan Tandy)? Well, Allison is practically invisible. There’s a lot of pride-swallowing that can go into being the civilian partner of a celebrity athlete, which Allison is learning firsthand. When Cam walks away to fetch a forgotten item, the women finally turn their attention to her. One informs Allison that she’s basic and that if she hopes to keep Cam to herself, she’d better start “deadbugging” him. Allison was as mystified as I was. The friends explained:

“Deadbugging is when he lays on his back like a dead bug while you eat his butthole like it’s a pudding cup.”

“If not, you gon’ lose him to a lady who does.”

Far be it from me to begrudge anyone their jollies, but who in the world wants to be reminded of Gregor Samsa whilst in flagrante delicto? And who, aside from a few randy frogs and lizards with more in common with George Costanza than they realize, gets excited about the prospect of combining insects with sex?

If the second season of Atlanta returns with a reference to a sex act involving, I dunno, an armadillo, chocolate milk and capers, I am filing for temporary separation from black folks. Y’all play too much.

But aside from that, the women who accosted Allison told her that if she didn’t start deadbugging Cam, he’d find a “real white girl” who would.

Wait.

Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Once again, we’re back to the idea that white women are more sex-positive than black women, which I’m going to blame mostly as a holdover from the black club women’s movement that’s trickled down and seeped into surprisingly common attitudes about modern black women and sex.

What I found even odder is the way the show assumes that Cam and Allison, who have been dating long enough for Cam to have tried to buy the woman a car, have never had a discussion about their sexual preferences and expectations.

I know Cam fell for Allison because she’s smart and sweet and was genuinely hard to get, but how have these two people not discussed what turns their respective cranks? Especially considering that Cam is the franchise player for a professional basketball team? Cam, Dudley Do-Right that he is, is also talented, charming and rich, and he lives in the black strip club capital of America. It’s impossible to imagine that everything on the sexual pu-pu platter hasn’t been offered to him several times over. It’s equally difficult to envision that Allison is unaware of that reality. Just because she’s the kind of girl you bring home to your mother doesn’t mean she’s unfamiliar with say, Pinky. (Every black woman I know with internet access knows who Pinky is. IJS.)

It’s entirely possible that movies and television haven’t caught up to where black people actually reside when it comes to sex. We’re arguably closer than ever before, but the fine points could still use a little work.

There were other things that happened on Survivor’s Remorse this week. Missy (Teyonah Parris) is organizing a fundraising gala for Cam’s foundation to assist his pet causes, including the wholly fictional frozen nostril syndrome.

Cassie has finally started her podcast, The Things We Think That You Should Think Too, which seems mostly a way for Cassie (Tichina Arnold) to brag about her life, keep from getting bored and needle M-Chuck (Erica Ash). Cassie invites Cam and Allison to join her for a livestream, but only Allison assents. And the first thing she asks is, “Why is it that some black women feel like the only way for them to be somebody is to crap all over someone else? What is with the black community tearing its own people down?” I have an answer for this: because black women are people, and people of all kinds, everywhere, sometimes feel better by “crapping all over someone else.” That’s not a black lady trait, it’s a human one. Ironically, it’s Chen (Robert Wu) who lays out that point quite nicely by segueing into a larger discussion of what the boundaries of an ethnic community (the “black community,” the “Asian community”) actually are. Well played.

In its mission to deliver social critique wrapped in a layer of pithy one-liners, Survivor’s Remorse can take a circuitous, sometimes ill-advised route to its point. That’s what it did this week. But with the final line of the episode, it stuck the landing and left me willing to forgive some of its faults. After Cam clearly establishes that he’s not into anal play of any sort, deadbugging or otherwise, Allison goes quiet. And then there’s a request. “Baby?” Allison asks sweetly. “Can you do me?”

Soraya Nadia McDonald is a senior writer covering arts, entertainment and culture for The Undefeated. Christopher Eccleston is her favorite Doctor Who.