Everyone is aware of the horrors of the Adult Film Industry. But everyone chooses to ignore them, that is an issue. Maybe because we agree with the fact that one isn’t forced to join the adult industry. However, if there is an enterprise in front of your eyes, that is both booming and flourishing but the income is being reaped by the big players or monopolists and not the people who literally destroy their body, then Proper Regulations and Laws are musts. Ironically, most of the countries lack any such regulation because each of it is busy in denial of the fact that any such industry exists on their lands. The exploitation of models and the depression of their lives have not been put on screen with a serious approach. It has been often explored, and made parodies of, for entertainment purposes. Channel 4 release, Adult Material (TV Series) do investigate some important questions and but at the end, it is left to us to think about it and make amendments.
Adult Material is a four-part drama series directed by Dawn Shadforth and written by Lucy Kirkwood. Each episode runs for an hour each and professional adult industry professionals were approached for their guidance and genuine depiction of this vast, often, misunderstood industry. The series isn’t based in the USA, that is the largest producer of online content, but portrays a British born woman, Jolene Dollar, through whose perspective, we visit the plot.
Adult Material begins with a middle-aged woman, Hayley Burrows (Hayley Squires) popularly known as Jolene Dollar in the adult film industry. Jolene is recording a sensuous selfie video inside a car which she uploads on her social media account for her fans. Jolene records this video while her car crosses the car wash machinery. It shows her obsession to keep her fans updated and lustful.
Jolene arrives on the set of an adult film where she is graced as a Star. She is incredibly charming and likeable, which quickly establishes that she has been working in the industry for a long time. Everything is usual and normal on set, except for Jolene, who meets a new girl, Amy (Siena Kelly) on set. Amy stirs something inside Jolene, as she recounts her own debutante days. Jolene looks at herself in the mirror and notices that she is fading out with age and will no longer be able to keep up the physical requirements of the industry. Jolene guardians Amy who is going to have her first sex scene filmed today. Jolene advises her to take it slow and say no, whenever she feels like.
However, things get out of hand, when the producers and director demand an obscene scene with Amy and an adult male actor. Jolene warns Amy not to do the scene if she isn’t willing to and even asks the director not to force. Jolene leaves the set in a hurry, while Amy is still in a dilemma.
The story then explores Jolene’s normal life where she is a mother of three children and a husband who isn’t prude or judgmental of Jolene’s profession. At night, Jolene feels uneasy thinking about Amy. she speaks to her husband, “this new girl, I shouldn’t have left her. She made me so fu**king old.” The next day her nightmares come true when she finds several missed calls from Amy.
The story further explores Jolene’s pursuit to get justice for Amy while unveiling the horrors of the adult industry and exploitation of female models by the producers and male actors.
The overall subject matter that Adult Material tries to explore is the exploitation of young girls in the adult industry. When one is capable of safeguarding or protecting themselves from these attacks, it is either too late or they have totally given up. The thing being, it is easy to allure young girls with money, because they are in urgent need of it. Their body is young and fresh to provide for the adult industry and in return, they are monetized. But due to lack of proper guidance, education, rights and regulations, there is no one telling these young ones that they are throwing themselves in an inescapable pit. The relationship between Jolene and Amy is the same, but it gets too late before Jolene can act. She lives with the horror that regrets every minute since then. But Jolene isn’t a protector herself, in a wide sense, she is also a victim who never raised a voice against all those exploitation. When she finally gathered the courage to do so, she made fun and joked off, because no one takes her seriously.
Often, Either a protagonist makes you hate it or adore it. But when it is trapped in between the two junctions, it is really hard to decipher what the character is trying to do. That leads to a confusing narrative, quickly transformed into a dry and monotonous story.
In Adult Material, Jolene’s character doesn’t try to take a stand herself. It acts out of anger or under alcohol influence. She does stay true to her words, but not because she wants to. She keeps the pursuit to prove herself right. It is more narcissistic than trying to help. Though even the negative approach to the cause isn’t explored passionately because Jolene is engrossed with so many personal conflicts. External conflicts are never pursued in a way a protagonist should. That creates a wide gap between the want, desire and conflicts of the character, which at one point becomes so messy that you just let them whatever they want to and lose all hope.
The narrative is scouted in the way. It had a great playground to score but failed due to an uninterested player. Only if Jolene’s character had much more depth and seriousness, it could really have done wonders for the overall plot. Everything else is to the point expect Jolene.
Jolene is voiced and supported by another female lead, MP Stella Maitland (Kerry Godliman) who provides words and intellect to Jolene’s confusion and inability to fight with big demons of the industry. However, Jolene’s own ignorance and acceptance to change, overshadows this brilliant character of Stella Maitland, without providing enough space to voice an opinion. Much of the takeaway dialogues are spoken by Stella Maitland. My most favorite one is one where she consoles a confused Jolene of her choices in life.
“Obscenity is an Opinion. A century ago, I’d have been outraged by your ankles. There is nothing inherently dirty about desire. We are not what we want Hayley. We are what we do to get what we want.”
Well – Researched Plot
Adult Material (TV Series) generally covers all the controversial and needed topics of the adult film industry, whether it is related to their personal lives, or the judgement they face each day. Through Jolene, the creators, especially the writers, have penned down the necessary details of the adult world. Be it children’s school mates making fun of their mother, the principal looking at a mother with judgmental perspective, obscenity and it’s perception, the obsessive need to be on the social media feed, the intimacy with one’s partner or the approach to consensual intimacy by youngsters. Though these are the important ones that I remember, there are a plethora of them which you will be able to pinpoint while streaming the series. It is quite a new ray of hope that at least filmmakers are exploring the dark sides of the glittering worlds as well, where the pain is often disguised with heavy makeup and a made-up smile.
Adult Material (TV Series) is really well researched but it is not well written. That is the only sin that spoils everything. If only the creators have spent more time to create much more motivated and interested characters, the series would have done incredibly well. For now, It is just a four-part series that doesn’t leave much impact. It is sure going to instill a lot of thought-provoking emotions inside you, but nothing might turn into something memorable or lasting.
It is an R- Rated series thus it would be advisable not to watch it with family. If you are looking for a short mini-series over a weekend or something to finish in a day, that is both funny and dramatic then you can count on this one.
Adult Material (TV Series) is streaming on Channel 4.
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