Time to choose. HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with ‘Sex/Life’ creator Stacy Rukeyser ahead of the show’s launch about Billie, Team Brad vs. Team Cooper, and more.
Sex/Life is about to be the Netflix show everyone is talking about. The sexy series debuts June 25 and revolves around a woman named Billie Connelly (Sarah Shahi), who finds herself torn between her husband, Cooper, and ex-lover, Brad. The tagline of the series is “time to choose.” Will Billie really make a choice by the season’s end? Creator Stacy Rukeyser teased what to expect in our EXCLUSIVE interview.
“She will have chosen and, hopefully, we will have a lot of other seasons to explore if that choice sticks or if there are further problems that ensue,” Stacy told HollywoodLife. “Remember the first season of The Killing and then they didn’t tell you who had done it or something? I was just as frustrated with that as everyone else. Look, this is good escapist TV, and I think it’s going to be satisfying.”
Stacy revealed the inspiration behind Sex/Life. She was looking to develop something that would “wholly my own” after UnREAL and wanted to create a series that’s a “glamorous, super fun, escapist, sparkly fever dream version of the past.” But she also wanted to do a “deeper exploration” of what happens to women as they get older.
“It happens to anyone, but I think particularly to women as we grow up and are supposed to become allegedly responsible grown-ups, we’re often expected to give up along the way,” Stacy said. “I related to that really personally, too, as a wife and mom as well. I felt this inner conflict in a very personal way, and I thought that it was an interesting one to give voice to and one that we don’t let women talk about too much. Ultimately, we’re asking that question: can you have it all? I think one of the mantras in women’s thinking right now is you can have it all, just not all at the same time. That has always made me bristle a little bit because I think it’s just another way of saying, well, you can’t really have it all, and you do have to choose. It’s so fun and new to make a series about a woman who wants sex, who demands sex, who wants better sex and to say out loud that we’ve had sex and we want more of it. Even as a wife and mom, there is this whole other side of yourself that still needs tending to and deserves to be acknowledged and appreciated.”
Over the course of the season, Billie begins to miss feeling desired and the freedoms that she once had. Her less-than-stellar sex life and a lack of romance lead Billie to begin fantasizing about her ex. Stacy stressed that while Brad does come back into the picture, don’t rule out Cooper. That’s why casting Mike Vogel as Cooper was so crucial.
“I think that very easily Cooper could be played with a lesser actor, as kind of a vanilla husband, who’s just not giving her good sex and sort of square and disappointing in that way,” Stacy told HollywoodLife. “But then it would just be a really easy choice. What was so important was that it’s a fair fight and that we really want the audience to be debating about being Team Cooper or Team Brad and switching and saying, ‘I was Team Cooper, but now I’m kind of feeling like I’m Team Brad or vice versa, you know.’ He has such intelligence and depth and soulfulness in this role.”
The creator also revealed that Sarah felt “Billie’s struggles on such a personal level, and she wanted this role. A lot of actresses of her stature would not audition. It’s like they’re offer only, and she absolutely auditioned. She came in for us. She wasn’t satisfied with the audition she gave, so she went back on her own and taped another audition with our casting director. She really fought for this because she felt it on such a deep, deep level. I feel like that makes such a difference because you’re understanding her and rooting for her and understanding what’s going on for her in those late nights with the baby and what she’s wondering and what she’s missing. That was really essential.”
When it comes to Brad, Stacy said that Adam “brought his heart and soul” to the character. “As the onion is getting peeled on Brad you’re starting to see, not only what drew Billie to him, but also the problems underneath and what made that relationship so devastating,” Stacy told HollywoodLife. “He does it in a way where you feel for him, you feel why Billie would be so drawn to him, why she wouldn’t be able to let go, why she would get sucked back into his orbit time and time again because of what he’s really struggling with.”
Stacy also teased that there’s a “huge cliffhanger” at the end of this season. “We really wanted it to be a fair fight,” Stacy said about Brad vs. Cooper. “I wanted half of the audience to be screaming, ‘No, no, no, what are you doing?’ And half of the audience saying, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ Most of us really understand Billie and her journey and feel for her. There’s plenty to go around with delicious men.” Sex/Life premieres June 25 on Netflix.