Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

The Grass is Always Grindr : Sex ed for the almost grown ups


Do you remember sex ed at school? A quick tour of reproduction and some advice on the practical ways to avoid STDs. Little or nothing about the circumstances in which sex happens, which is the biggest driver of people’s sex choices. It is called a sex life for a reason.

This feature length version of a web series tackles the challenging area of the culture around sex. Specifically, the culture around the chemsex scene, consent, and HIV. Commissioned by the 56 Dean St London sexual health clinic which treats approx one third of HIV cases in London, it’s an ambitious mix of drama, education, and observation. It also managed to get the blessing (and funding) of the UK National Health Service without destroying its entertainment value.

The film embodies its purpose in the central couple. Adam, a boxer with HIV, (Taofique Folarin) learns to deal with the stigma of HIV and gain control over how he and others see himself. Joe (Denholm Spurr) spirals out of control on the chemsex scene and learns the hard way about the necessity of harm reduction.

As the film has a public health message there are inevitably some deliberate contrivances of situation, dialogue and plot. The soap slips things along a bit too conveniently. When it comes to eradicating HIV stigma there is a wishful conflation of what is possible vs what is probable. But, so what? Cheerleaders are good for when the home team is losing as well as winning.

Adam and Joe are a hopelessly mismatched couple but the performances of Folarin and Spurr keep you rooting for them. Folarin’s portrayal of cracked confidence and Spurr’s gallop towards and away from intimacy make you want to hug/slap them both. The one truly bad person is Jean Paul, the campy drug dealer in a face pack who should definitely get his own spin off series (or at least panto) as the devil incarnate.


The Grass is Always Grindr, written by  Pat Cash and directed by Luke Davies, is no exercise in finger wagging. It is epically watchable, surprisingly touching, funny in parts, and earns the opportunity to make its case. Its strength as a film and as template for public health campaigns come from the same place, it is grounded in the culture of the people it is designed to help.  


P.S.  For details of yet unannounced plans where the movie can be seen check out  https://twitter.com/56deanstreet

The thirteen short episodes of the web series (Season 1 & 2) are available to view now on the 56 Dean Street YouTube. 

There is also a seven-episode TV broadcast on local UK channel London Live from next Tuesday 24th September on Freeview 8, Virgin 159 and Sky 117.


Review by Andrew Hebden

Queerguru Correspondent Andrew Hebden is a MEDIA & CULTURAL STUDIES graduate spending his career between London, Beijing and NYC as an expert in media and social trends. As part of the expanding minimalist FIRE movement he recently returned to the UK and lives in Soho. He devotes as much time as possible to the movies, theatre and the gym. His favorite thing is to try something (anything) new every day.

Posted by queerguru  at  09:07



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