Sex on TV: 10 Reasons I Can’t Put Down 50 Shades of Grey (the Worst Book Series of All Time)
It may not be officially on television quite yet, but I think it’s safe to say that 50 Shades of Grey is enough of a pop culture phenomenon to warrant some discussion here. Plus, the folks at Saturday Night Live are onto it, so that’s gotta’ count for something, right?
For those who recently purchased property underneath a boulder in a remote field or quarry, 50 Shades of Grey is a fictional novel, selling out in bookstores across the country. Apparently it was nearly impossible to even order a copy online for a while, illustrating exactly how hot this commodity was. And trust me, it’s hot. As illustrated in SNL’s satirical commercial, the demographic of Grey’s consumer is married women over 30. Having heard whispers about the book, my decision to scour the city for a copy mostly came after my own mother suggested I read it. Never one to let my mom be ahead of the curve when it comes to what’s trendy, it is physically impossible to fathom my mortification as I began reading and envisioned my mother reading as well.
In what started out as Twilight fan fiction, Grey describes the relationship between Anastasia Steele, a virginal recent college grad, and Christian Grey, the uber powerful, strikingly gorgeous, and insanely wealthy CEO of Grey Enterprises. He’s looking for a submissive sexual partner to tie up and flog, while she’s so naïve, she has to google anal beads. Naturally, they wind up copulating like bunnies, dabble in some BDSM, and realize there may be more to their relationship than a Master spanking his Sub. Look at me working the lingo.
So, upon completion of the first book, I hereby present to you The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, when it comes to 50 Shades of Grey. In full disclosure, I found a surprising amount of ‘Good’ for a book that erred light on story line and heavy on thrusting.
1. Not that I’m big into supermarket romance novels with the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” man on the cover, but I’m familiar enough with the formula to appreciate Grey’s lack of cheesy romance jargon. There was not a single throbbing member or heaving bosom mentioned. +1 point. (Not so fast, though—see The Bad for further commentary…)
2. Anastasia’s rationale for being a virgin: it just hasn’t happened yet. Love the idea of waiting for the right person and not feeling pressured. How quickly the cookie crumbles when a Greek Adonis enters the picture—but I’ll give Anastasia a +.5 point for the first couple years of self-control.
3. THE ARRAY OF BIRTH CONTROL! As one of the highest-powered businessmen in the entire country, Christian Grey knows he’s not ready for a baby. That’s why he requires ALL of his submissives to make sure they’re on a method of birth control that’s right for them. Even if it means calling in his private gynecologist on a Sunday. We’re talking discussion of pills, types of pills, accuracy in taking pills, the whole shebang. And, SPOILER ALERT, book two sees some Depo Provera action. That’s right, the shot, mentioned by name. +1000 points. And until her method of choice becomes active…
4. CONDOM USE! Honestly, aside from “earth shattering orgasm”, there is no string of words used more often in the entire book than “foil packet.” Christian admits he’s not a fan of condoms, yet he refuses to have sex with Anastasia without one. Another +1000 points to Team Steele-Grey.
5. So, there may not be any throbbing members, but Grey doesn’t escape completely unscathed in the category of semantics. First, Christian expresses his intentions toward Anastasia by announcing he’s going to “take her now.” Really? If author E.L. James wanted to get all old-timey on us, I would have at least gone for a double entendre, like “plundering her booty.” I get that the human nether region is awkward to talk about without sounding clinical or crude, but there’s no excuse for calling one’s vagina a “sex.” I also realize that Webster’s Dictionary names genitalia as the fourth definition of the word, but seriously? -10 points. I would have preferred “va-ja-jay.” (Ps—His package? Usually referred to as his “arousal,”which is, ironically, also the name of Paris Hilton’s new fragrance. Just kidding. I think.)
6. The entire story takes place in like 2 weeks. I realize that the real-time time frame worked well for 24, but I can assure you that Anastasia Steele is no Jack Bauer. Arguably, her ability to have mind-blowing orgasms every time she has sex—often 5 or 6 times a day—is a pretty bad ass skill, but I wouldn’t defer to her on issues of homeland security. There’s no way that much could happen in 2 weeks. When does she sleep? Pop her zits for 20 minutes in the bathroom? WHEN DOES SHE CATCH UP ON GIRLS? -50 points.
7. Uh, how about that lack of plot? -100 points.
8. Well there’s definitely no ugly when it comes to the two main characters. Or, any character, now that I think about it. Every character description is of a fabulously attractive and fit individual. Christian, Anastasia, her best friend Kate, the guys who lust after them, even Christian’s security detail. Maybe I need to keep reading further into book three to be introduced to Anastasia’s childhood best friend Lauren, who may sport a bit of a muffin top and have mild acne flare ups once a month, but also gets to experience some wild, multiple-orgasm trysts. Isn’t the point of fan fiction to be able to identify with a character???? -infinity points. Seriously, though.
9. About those orgasms. Anastasia comes. Every.Single.Time. Even her first time. Sometimes multiple times. No matter what. And they seem like pretty damn intense orgasms. But my favorite part? She usually achieves orgasm whenever Christian simply says her name. Oh, okay.-100 points for lack of realism, plus another -100 points for my jealousy.
10. And lastly, THERE’S NO PLOT. -100 points.
Strangely enough, if you tally up all the points, you actually get pi. It must be part of the magic 50 Shades of Grey weaves on its reader. Regardless of the good, the bad or the ugly, I’m clearly addicted. I just wish that was the only embarrassing thing I have in common with every middle-aged woman in America.
“Something for the kiddies, something for mom” image by Todd Mecklem.
Lauren Mann works in The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s Entertainment Media department. She’s been blogging about sex, love and relationships among twenty-somethings since she first joined the Campaign as an intern in 2009. Check out her personal blog at whatjewtalkingbout.tumblr.com.