Let's talk about sex, G.P.
The lifestyle and health company's first Netflix series, "The Goop Lab" (2020), explored wellness topics like psychedelic psychotherapy, aging and female pleasure, and the latter inspired the new show, Paltrow says.
"I always say sex and relationships, that area is really indicative of what we still have to work on," she explains. "So we thought it would be a fascinating subject for the second series."
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Throughout the six-episode season, Paltrow enlists the help of experts on relationships and intimacy to help couples improve their partnerships. Couples speak about their issues in a group setting with Paltrow, and then each works with an expert on their specific problems. Some issues appear more physical in nature. Felicitas and Rama, who bounced back after nearly divorcing, want to reignite their attraction. Another participant, Erika, wonders "Am I gonna have an orgasm before I have a baby?"
But their issues are improved with more communication and learning to ask for what they want. Another couple, Sera and Dash, try to break themselves of negative relationship patterns by exploring their family trauma in an exercise called family constellations therapy.
Ahead of the show's premiere, Paltrow spoke with USA TODAY about her hopes for the series, the relationship myth that "sets us up for failure, probably more than any other myth in life," and her own struggle for self-acceptance.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Question: What do you want viewers to take away from the series?
Gwyneth Paltrow: I love the idea that we could be creating a space where anybody that's withholding anything, or hasn't felt comfortable, or wants to try something, or has some trauma they want to unearth – that they could point to the show and then it would act as a set of tools.
Q: Were you given any restrictions by Netflix? Was anything off-limits?
Paltrow: We shocked them with showing the female vulva and showing a real orgasm from a woman that wasn't pornography on the first show. So by the time they got here, they were like, "You guys are fine."
Q: Were you concerned at all that any of the couples might consciously uncouple during filming? Because they were really going there.
Paltrow: Yeah, there was one couple that I thought, "Wow, I don't know if they're going to be able to break through." But I felt compassion for them. I felt respect for them. I was in awe of them for coming to this show with that level of vulnerability and honesty and willingness to really put it all on the line, in the name of improving their communication and their relationships.
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Q: When sharing the "Sex, Love & Goop" trailer on Instagram, you wrote that the show is "full of lessons I wish I’d learned years ago." What are some of the things you've taken away from the series, and how has applying them affected your relationships?
Paltrow: As a woman in my 20s, there wasn't really a rubric for being comfortable with pleasure or talking about sexuality. I really appreciate that this show destigmatizes that and creates a space for people to ask for what they want and to explore who they are as a sexual being. I think the world would be a lot better off if people didn't feel shame and didn't feel that there was something wrong with them and that they had a space with their partner to explore and heal those things.
Q: There's the myth that once you find "the one," it's all a fairy tale and you live happily ever after. What do you think the danger of that myth is, and how does it compare to reality?
Paltrow: That myth sets us up for failure, probably more than any other myth in life, because the work begins when you get married. It's how you show up, and the willingness to understand that it's always work and that you're always responsible for 50% of the relationship.
I hope that at this point that myth is being dispelled because that's how people end up feeling like they fail if they get married and it doesn't work out.
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Q: There's an exercise in the series where participants stand in front of a mirror and look at their bodies, assessing what they like and don't like and what messages have shaped those opinions. You share in the episode that you want to work on “real acceptance because I drive myself really hard to not age and to not be disappointed in the way I look, and I’m still disappointed in the way I look.” Have you figured out where that criticizing voice comes from?
Paltrow: It's very endemic in our culture for women to criticize and hold ourselves to a crazy standard, and social media has really amplified that in a negative way. For me, specifically, I've been in the public eye for 25 years, and you can't help be impacted by people talking about you, criticizing you as you go through this very public life. It can be compounded for people who are in the public eye as well, and I do think it's really important for us to change that internally, how we feel about ourselves.
I really like that moment, too, where (expert Amina Peterson, founder of the Atlanta Institute of Tantra & Divine Sexuality) says, "Look at what you like and what you don't like" because inherent in that idea is this is all you, and it's all OK. It's very hard to heal a body that you don't love and have some acceptance for.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Netflix's 'Sex, Love & Goop': Gwyneth Paltrow on marriage, self-image