Does Billie From ‘Sex/Life’ Actually Deserve All the Backlash?

Sex/Life Billie

Netflix’s Sex/Life is a ludicrously steamy soap that’s perfect viewing for when you want to switch your brain off and kick back with a glass of wine — no thoughts, just vibes.

With Season two out now on the streaming service, audiences are invited back into the life of Billie Connelly (Sarah Shahi), a mother of two who, quite simply, exploded her marriage with Cooper (Mike Vogel) while pining after ex-boyfriend Brad Simon (Adam Demos).

Sex/Life: the Rundown

Season one saw Billie question her safe marriage and nuclear family life choices as she yearned for the fast-paced and exciting connection she once shared with her ex, Brad. While on the outside she appears to have what most women are told to strive for — a successful husband, two beautiful kids, a big house, and a privileged life — on the inside she’s struggling with her sexual needs not being met, feeling more like a picture-perfect housewife than a multi-faceted woman with desires and aspirations.

As Brad reenters her life, Billie is in a constant fight or flight state within the limitations of her “safe” marriage and the seemingly more dangerous choices of the outside world that beckons her. Does she choose Cooper and a life of stability or does she choose Brad, someone who once broke her heart and could easily do it again?

Season two sees Billie picking up the pieces, having left Cooper and been rejected by Brad, starting a new romance with Majid (Darius Homayoun). We won’t divulge too much of the season two storyline and spoil it all but, once again, Billie is an absolutely chaotic character to watch as she tries to figure out what the hell she wants from life.

Billie’s Backlash

Backlash towards Billie’s character has been relentless over the two seasons with people online dubbing her as annoying, selfish, toxic, and insufferable. If you keep an eye on Twitter commentary, she’s also been labelled a slut, a hoe, and every other word in between as audiences watch her flip-flop all over the place trying to make a decision in the midst of her life crisis.

There’s no denying Billie is a frustrating character to watch. And while Sex/Life might be so bad it’s good, beyond the sex scenes, questionable dialogue, and unrealistic storyline (who runs into someone THAT much in New York?!) lies a valid point: why is the onus upon women to make sacrifices in order to “have it all”?

Is the Hate Against Billie Misogynistic?

Fictional or not, Billie isn’t the first person to question whether she’s happy with her life choices, nor the first woman with ambitions greater than being a wife and mother to feel stifled by the heteronormative “fairytale” life.

Even in 2023, things aren’t necessarily geared towards or made easy for women to “have it all”. In recent years, you may have seen more terms like “the hidden load” and “emotional labour” become part of the modern-day vernacular — these are terms used to describe how working women and mothers are still taking on more unpaid work than their male counterparts in order to achieve both professional and personal goals.

While Billie’s said to be having a “mid-life crisis”, yearning for her ex and youth, it’s still dressing down the bigger issue she has: she’s a woman with needs that aren’t being met. Yes, she can be a mother, and a doting wife, but she wants a life that is bigger than a box-ticking checklist. Her husband gets to go into the city, further his career, and get a break from suburbia – so why can’t she? While there’s nothing wrong with suburban life, if that’s the one you want, should we be ridiculing women for looking for ways to be able to fulfil their needs? And should we be labelling them as annoying, irrational, or using slut-shaming terminology when they push back against the expectations that society has placed upon them?

In an interview with Forbes, Sarah Shahi admitted to relating strongly with her character in Season 2 of Sex/Life. “Relationships are hard. It’s a very tricky space to navigate. There’s no rhyme, reason, or rule book regarding love,” Shahi said. “This show represents how hard it is to live authentically and in your truth.”

Billie Isn’t Perfect, but She’s Real

Watching Billie is a rollercoaster and there’s no denying she could have handled situations a lot better — but the underlying focus of the narrative is that life isn’t always perfect and that it doesn’t follow a linear line, even if Billie does get her fairytale ending eventually.

Sure, in real life you probably won’t navigate or be able to afford to live in a glamorous city a few days a week before going back to your family home and being a parent. Billie’s 50-50 split isn’t realistic in any sense.

But her yearning for Brad is a bigger-picture thing. It’s more than just being horny for an ex: it’s about her desire to still be her own person beyond just being a wife or mother. Or, at the very least, her desire to be with a person who sees her as more than a perfect two-dimensional character. And that’s a feeling most women can probably relate to.

Related: A Marriage Therapist on the Problems Associated with ‘Settling’ In a Relationship 

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