These 3 web shows portrays BDSM better than ‘Bonding’

At first glance, Bonding seems to be a positive take on bondage and sex work. It follows the lives of Peter and Tiffany. Peter is a broke standup comedian, who reluctantly accepts his dominatrix best friend’s offer to be her assistant.

My dark sense of humor found it hilarious and insightful. But my opinion changed when I saw professional doms calling the show out. According to them, Bonding’s portrayal of BDSM and sex work is inaccurate.

“The inaccuracies feed the stigma of BDSM & it doesn’t really show what the life of a dominatrix is like at all. Why is she a b***h 24/7? Why is she wearing a collar with an O ring? Why does her corset not fit her right? She doesn’t screen her clients? Her lifestyle slave causes problems? Why can’t he just be great & not obsessive? She has zero sensual clients? The lack of negotiation & consent? Come on, even loosely based there should be a better representation of BDSM in here,” professional dominatrix Mistress Synful Pleasure comments on the creator’s Instagram post.

The insights from professional doms whipped me into shape (pun intended). Like most of Bonding’s viewers, I’m not a BDSM expert. That being said, this isn’t an excuse to ignore the red flags in the show.

And as far as I know, BDSM is a two-way street, believe it or not. Bonding didn’t bother showing that.

Tifanny sees consent as a malleable thing. She can be quite manipulative towards Peter and her clients. And as far as I know, BDSM is a two-way street, believe it or not. Bonding didn’t bother showing that. They were too busy making the world of sado-masochism a dark punchline, instead of educating viewers about sex work and BDSM.

Read more: The Big O: A kinktroduction to BDSM

Bonding was enjoyable to a point. After realizing professional doms themselves reject the show, I say to storytellers: try harder, harder, much harder representing subcultures you claim to uplift. Jokes on me for not seeing the red flags with my rose-tinted glasses. Tough.

So if you’re someone who hasn’t gone down the BDSM rabbit hole, I found better alternatives. Here are some web shows that represent BDSM and sex work better. These selections range from comedies to dramas, fiction to documentaries.

And just so we’re clear: BDSM and sex work can be comedic. As long as we’re laughing with them, not at them. We’re not butt-hurt—just a bunch of decent people fighting stigmas.

Super Deluxe’s Sex Stuff

Join sex educator and artist Zoë Ligon as she demystifies sex. From sex toys, rope bondage, and cam work, she consults experts from the field. At the end of the episode, she gives her honest opinion on the product or the BDSM experience. It’s surprisingly light, fun, and educational. So yeah, Bonding’s intentions done right.

Sex Stuff is available on Youtube.

Read more: Darling Kink encourages sex positivity through erotic art

Mercy Mistress

Produced by stand-up comic Margaret Cho, this is a semi-autobiographical web series based on Yin Q’s life as a professional dominatrix. The episodes explore different clients and their various kinks. It tackles her life as a dom and her personal demons.

“This story, being autobiographical, is centered on a queer Asian-American femme’s story about gender roles, sexuality, power, and commerce. These are very complicated and raw issues that need careful and authentic representation,” Yin Q says in her OUT interview.

Queer representation, demystifying sex work, and the female gaze? Sounds like the show for us.

Mercy Mistress is available on Youtube.

Read more: Welcome to the colorful world of pleasure toys

Sex & Love Around the World

CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour discovers how people around the world are embracing their sexuality. In this docu-series, she gives viewers a glimpse of Berlin’s wide BDSM culture and India’s flourishing kink scene. It just goes to show no matter how conservative a nation is—people are always down to clown.

Sex & Love Around the World is available on Netflix.

Still from Bonding

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Rogin Losa
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