Jake Johnson and Ophelia Lovibond in Minx

Katrina Marcinowski/HBO Max

Idara Victor, Lennon Parham, Oscar Montoya and Jessica Lowe in Minx

Katrina Marcinowski/HBO Max

Ellen Rapoport

Katrina Marcinowski/HBO Max
Fill 1
Fill 1
April 27, 2022
In The Mix

Ellen Rapoport Thinks Minx

The producer of the HBO Max series unites an unlikely pair in her affectionate, funny take on the early women's movement.

Jacqueline Cutler

A strident but self-aware '70s-era feminist, Joyce may be the purest soul on TV. Sure, she's self-righteous, but she's also right. And she's determined to change the world through her magazine, The Matriarchy Awakens.

That pompous title turns into Minx, also the title of creator and showrunner Ellen Rapoport's new ten-part HBO Max comedy.

A former corporate lawyer, Rapoport (Clifford the Big Red Dog, Netflix's Desperados) hadn't worked in publishing, but four years ago she became intrigued by women's magazines of the early 1970s.

"They were intended to be feminist," she says. "All of them had this interesting combination of pornographers and feminists working together. I knew — at least I thought — this would make a great TV show."

Rapoport, who executive-produces with Paul Feig, captures the spirit of these educated and eager women in Joyce. Played by Ophelia Lovibond (Elementary, Trying), Joyce dreams of promoting important issues and is dismayed to find herself working with a pornographer.

Doug (Jake Johnson), publisher of Bottom Dollar magazines, agrees to invest in Joyce's idea — if she includes a male centerfold. When she bristles, he appeals to her feminism: why can men gaze at naked women in print, but not the reverse?

And so Minx is born.

Rapoport, whose research included a magazine binge on eBay, recalls reading a 10,000-word treatise on women's rights — then turning the page to see a naked man on horseback. All of this is shown in the series — truly all.

The show's centerfold audition features a montage of penises set to the Jean Knight song "Mr. Big Stuff." It's a lot for Joyce. As worldly as she may feel, until that moment she's only seen two-anda-half penises — in "very dim lighting."

Avoiding clichés was crucial to Rapoport, who knew that Joyce — in her polyester pantsuits and pussy-bow blouses — could be insufferable, and Doug could be crude. So Joyce lightens up, and Doug turns out to be a good guy. "He lives in a nice house in the suburbs, and he knows how to cook and is sweet," the producer says. "Doug didn't feel like the typical sleazy pornographer."

He looks it, though, with his beard, cigar, shirt open a couple buttons too many and gold medallion. Incidentally, Screw publisher Al Goldstein — the cliché incarnate — once asked Rapoport for a date. She did not accept.

"It's too bad," she says. "He would have been a great source of material."

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #3, 2022, under the title, "Lib and Let Lib."

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