Film & Water #138 – Secretary


Episode 138: SECRETARY

Rob is joined by sex education teacher Kim Cavill to discuss 2002's comedy/drama SECRETARY, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as a troubled young woman who enters into a BDSM relationship with her boss, played by James Spader.

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9 responses to “Film & Water #138 – Secretary

  1. I am in the midst of listening to this interesting conversation on this film (which I’ve not yet seen). It got me to thinking are there any movies that you would be too uncomfortable to watch with your mom in the room (and I don’t mean porn)?

    I once had a female student tell me she and her mom went to see Magic Mike together. Channing Tatum: bringing families together.

    Movies I can’t watch with mom or dad:

    Boogie Nights
    Wolf of Wall Street
    Last Tango in Paris
    Spanking the Monkey

  2. Very interesting discussion! As a parent, I will admit the idea of 10 year olds looking at porn is beyond disturbing, and I am going to re-check all the parental filters on all devices in our household tonight!

    I had never heard of this film, honestly. I don’t think I knew of Maggie Gyllenhaal before The Dark Knight, though.

    I wonder what Kim thought of The Shape of Water? Spoilers for those who haven’t seen it, but the lead character is shown masturbating regularly, as part of her daily schedule! She falls in love with and has a meaningful sexual relationship with a strange aquatic life form. I would call that Sex Positive myself! I was a bit surprised by those aspects of the movie, just because Hollywood rarely goes there.

    Kim was a great guest, and again as a parent, I appreciate what she does. Nice to hear from her!


    1. She was Donnie Darko’s sister before Secretary, and before The Dark Knight was in Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Stranger Than Fiction. Just rattling off the ones I’ve seen of course.

    2. CFranks, just think back to all the schoolyard tales you heard at 10 and then multiply that by a million – and that’s what our kids have access to at any point. I remember learning about sex (not sexuality) at about 4 when I read these Childcraft Encyclopedias about reproduction. But I got a real education when this other kid named David Figueroa brought one of his uncle’s hardcore magazines to school. Anyone who had older siblings always shared what they learned from their big brothers and sisters -99% of it hyperbole.

  3. Putting myself out of a gig , but I enjoy what I’m calling the “expert series” of shows you do with someone who knows their stuff. Loved this guest!

    Can’t wait to see who you get for Leon: The Professional!

  4. I was exposed to porn in the single digits myself, and I didn’t have the benefit/plague of the internet at my disposal, so I wouldn’t be too surprised about the numbers getting rattled off. I was definitely thinking “uh-huh” about that “mostly accidental” bit. But you can’t express that without making someone self-conscious. so sure, accident. Anyway, the permissive attitudes of the ’70s and ’80s meant sex scenes in every action and horror flick, so we had our own warping elements. Thankfully/unfortunately, I found a forgotten hard copy of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) in a closet at my granny’s house, plus we had Ruth Westheimer and the AIDS explosion, so I never hurt for access to decent sex ed outside of school. Frankly, I’m still traumatized and inhibited by those years.

    Back when I was working at the sex shop, we had a copy of the original teaser poster for Secretary on the exterior door of the public restroom in “the dungeon,” where we kept all the BDSM gear and would bring out dildos on demand (they couldn’t be on display in Texas back then.) We all loved the image/tagline (“Assume The Position”) and were all pretty hyped to see it once it hit video. I was expecting something dark and kinky, and was disappointed by the saccharine nature of the story. I was in the minority though, as the actual enthusiasts were sick of creepy edgy takes on their love lives and appreciated the sweet love story within the tart trappings. Not unlike negative reactions to Wonder Woman and Black Panther, not everything is meant for every audience, but hits the right audience directly in the heart.

    Years back I was visiting my parents out in the country, and since they still had one of those elusive video stores that were going extinct in the city, I decided to check out some films. Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know looked interesting, so I rented it. I think we made it through a whiteknuckled 45 minutes of art house with folks who were of a more Blue Collar Comedy Tour vein before the two kids started discussing “docking” and I sprang to my feet and exclaimed “ThaT’S it!” To their credit, my father and his wife somehow tolerated it up to that point, much to my surprise.

  5. Great guest and very thought provoking discussion for the father of a young girl. Like Chris, I’ll also be double checking parental controls tonight.

    While I haven’t seen The Secretary, my wife and I are big fans of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. So, I’ll add my own recommendation for that show. It’s a fun series with some great female characters. I actually find Dot’s character to be very interesting. Over the course of the series, she struggles to reconcile the example of strength and independence that Miss Fisher sets for her and her own strict Catholic up-bringing, which seems to run counter to that example. Over time, she develops her own brand of strength and independence, while still staying true to her religious beliefs. Great stuff.

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