Emma Thompson Tackles The Orgasm Gap In New Hulu Film

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Emma Thompson is a shapeshifter, and I’m not exaggerating my belief of this fact. She can go from classic period piece dramas, such as Sense and Sensibility and Remains of the Day, to Carrington, and then morph into Nanny McPhee, Cruella DeVille, and Miss Trunchbull in London’s musical Matilda

Thompson doesn’t confine herself to the upper crust characters that could have boxed her in early on in her acting career. She lives outside the box and isn’t afraid to tackle challenging and fun characters. 

To go from Elinor Dashwood to a nanny with facial defects with ease — that’s a shapeshifter, in my opinion. And in her latest role, she is transforming herself, yet again, into one of us (or some of us), a sexually unfulfilled middle-aged woman. 

The Dame is starring in the new movie Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, which is now streaming on Hulu. 

She portrays Nancy Stokes, a lonely widow who is on the prowl for sexual pleasure, self-discovery, and an intimate connection for the night. An everyday woman on the hunt for a sexual awakening after an unfulfilling marriage, her character revealing that she has never enjoyed sex – or had an orgasm – before.

Sounds relatable – we’re here for it. 

Stokes finds her sexual rumspringa and more with a male sex worker named Leo Grande, played by Daryl McCormack, a gentle hunk with solid abs and solid boundaries.  

The Orgasm Gap Is Wide

It’s not your average rom-com. I’d say it’s more of a dramedy that welcomingly dives into a topic that’s been addressed in movies but mostly ignored in the real world — the female orgasm and the orgasm gap. 

“The orgasm gap, or pleasure gap, is a social phenomenon referring to the general disparity between heterosexual men and women in terms of sexual satisfaction—more specifically, the unequal frequency in achievement of orgasm during sexual encounters,” according to Wikipedia

While the topic is often addressed, albeit comically, in the cinematic universe, it’s rarely discussed in society, which is why it’s refreshing to see a middle-aged icon talk candidly about all things relating to women like her character, Nancy Stokes, and Thompson herself. 

Thompson did a Q&A published in The Cut and talked about sex, female pleasure, and the orgasm gap. The interviewer asked Thompson if it was intentional that Good Luck To You, Leo Grande indulges in a reality that Hollywood likes to ignore: Women over 40 also enjoy sex

Thompson Talks Sex

“Well, let’s remember that this is the first time Nancy has enjoyed sex. The film is really about someone who hasn’t enjoyed sex until her early 60s, when she’s decided that it’s time to get onboard with something else, with unlocking whatever has prevented her (from having an orgasm),” said Thompson. “So it’s partly about women not thinking that enjoying sex is for them or is important for them. We’re not encouraged, necessarily, to think about what it is we might want. We’re too busy thinking about what everyone else needs, or in a sexual situation, perhaps performing, so that the man feels like he’s doing a good job because it’s all about them.

“At the end, we realize that this is a woman whose capacity to access her own pleasure has been revealed to her and given to her by, you know, the good offices of this extraordinary, very humane, young sex worker. But it’s her responsibility after that. It’s very pleasurable to watch, and it’s a great release.”

Thompson says that while the orgasm gap plays a supporting role in the film, she felt it was crucial for audiences to know that when she has her first orgasm, it wasn’t thanks to Leo – Nancy did it herself. 

“It was very important to all of us that it wasn’t Leo who gives her the orgasm. And actually, one of the saddest things is not having had her own and not being able to give herself her own private pleasure, which is a hugely healthy and satisfying thing to do, and free — you don’t need anything except yourself. It’s so sad to think of her never having had access to that. And it’s nothing to do with her age; a lot of young women don’t know. Female masturbation is a complete taboo. No one talks about it. But no one talks about periods. No one talks about, you know, menopause

“So all of the things that happen to our bodies are only beginning to come into the mainstream conversation now. And indeed, I don’t think this film would have landed in quite the same way before the Me Too movement and this mainstream discussion of abuse, what is abuse and what is consent and what is not consent. So I think there are so many things that have happened to make this movie part of a real Zeitgeist moment.”


Have you seen Thompson’s latest film? Tell us what you thought in the comments! 

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