It’s the season of red carpets and golden statues, when big talents and bold names compete for Golden Globes, Grammys, Oscars, and more. We’ll be tuning in next Sunday to see which creators and entertainers take home the awards for all around amazing big-screen accomplishments, but we think there should be another category of award: An honor for scripts and celebrities raising awareness of sexual health topics. So we present to you the . . Nurxys? They’re our way of celebrating moments and people that addressed birth control, STIs and sexual health generally while kickstarting conversations and reducing stigma around these important subjects.
Best Animated Birth Control: Big Mouth
This popular cartoon created a birth control Bachelorette (in an episode called “Miss Contraceptive,”) to show a teenager choosing her first contraceptive method. She meets walking, talking versions of everything from the condom (he hugs her but she says she “doesn’t feel anything”) to the diaphragm (which speaks in a grandma rasp and says “Your mother and I used to be really close”). In a rose ceremony, she announces the winner is . . the pull-out method, which horrifies her parents who are watching off-camera (and which, for the record, is not a reliable form of birth control!).
Best PSA about STIs: Saturday Night Live
In October Pete Davidson visited the Saturday Night Live “news” segment Weekend Update to give color to headlines about record rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Commenting, “I get tested all the time because I look like I have all of them” Davidson put the STI epidemic in context, pointing out that these infections are all curable and a small price to pay for having sex — as long as you get tested and treated. It’s not a PSA the CDC would create, but it reached millions more people than a typical public health message ever could.
Best Reality Star Reveal: Jonathan Van Ness
In his memoir Over the Top and an accompanying New York Times profile, Queer Eye hair guru Jonathan Van Ness shared that he is part of the “beautiful HIV-positive community.” Although he struggled with the decision to talk about his status, he concluded, “The Trump administration has done everything they can do to have the stigmatization of the L.G.B.T. community thrive around me” so “I do feel the need to talk about this.” While choosing to reveal HIV status is a personal choice, we applaud Jonathan’s willingness to talk openly and dispel stigma about the condition.
Best Herpes Disclosure: Work in Progress
In this new Showtime series Work in Progress, protagonist Abby discloses that she has herpes to new partner Chris before they have sex for the first time. The award-worthy part? Instead of sensationalizing the disclosure, the script treats it as only a minor bump in the couple’s (somewhat winding) road to the bedroom
Best Sex Ed Redo: Sex, Explained
Imagine how much just better things would be if America’s youth were taught Sex Ed by Janelle Monae. At least Netflix is offering us all the opportunity to be re-educated about sex with Ms. Monae as a narrator. The new docuseries Sex, Explained looks at topics like fertility, sexual fantasies, attraction, and our personal favorite, birth control, through a scientific (but binge-worthy) lens.
Best Worst Morning-After Incident: Shrill
Emergency contraception failing at its one job is the catalyst for main character Annie to evaluate her entire life over the course of the pilot episode of Hulu series Shrill, and have an abortion by episode’s end. The show received praise both for its no-nonsense portrayal of abortion and for raising awareness of the fact that Plan B may not be as effective for women who weigh more than 175 pounds.
Best Baring All for HPV Awareness: Jamie Otis
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Former star of The Bachelor and Married at First Sight Jamie Otis revealed to her nearly half a million Instagram followers that she’d tested positive for HPV and been diagnosed with cervical dysplasia (after her OB-Gyn performed a colposcopy, which Otis filmed and posted to her Insta). Cervical dysplasia is caused by certain strains of the HPV virus and can be a precursor to cervical cancer, though it’s treatable if caught in time—that’s why getting Pap or HPV tests on schedule is so important, and why Otis did her audience a solid by exposing her experience.
Best Teen Drama with Lessons for Adults: Sex Education
Adolescence feels extra-awkward for Otis, because his mom is a no-boundaries sex therapist who fills their home with erotic art and a rotating cast of lovers. But then he partners with rebel classmate Maeve to turn the sex education he’s received at home into a business counseling his schoolmates through their sexual issues — in the process experiencing his own sexual awakening. The curriculum this British Netflix hit includes is way more comprehensive than what you probably learned in school — masturbation, impotence, homosexuality, oral sex — and we love the candid, no-shame way the show addresses these topics.
You Be the Judge!
Which recent entertainment moments that touched on sexual health have you found funny, informative, or just really spot-on? Did we miss any? Let us know on Instagram or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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