In my quest to be the smartest sex nerd ever, I spend a lot of time watching webinars and joining online and in-person classes. And yet, sometimes it’s the most accessible options that offer the best information. Below I’ve shared four of my favorite sex and pleasure documentaries (and one bonus mental health option) from Netflix. These shows will help you learn more about your body, explore sex education with lots of different teachers, and discover a range of relationship challenges and solutions.
I’ve rated the documentaries with my own very unofficial star system to guide you along, but honestly, they are all SO good. I know Goop and Gywneth can be a bit eye-rolling, but give it a shot. Both of the Goop documentaries are really well done and offer so much information to beginners and experts alike. Give yourself some time in the coming weeks to explore these documentaries. If you want additional resources, check out my list of resources for deeper pleasure practice post on Instagram.
My Favorite Sex & Pleasure Documentaries
Goop Lab // The Pleasure is Ours (documentary, episode) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Featuring the late, great Betty Dodson and her partner Carlin Ross in conversation with the hosts to talk about why we, across all global cultures, are so scared of female anatomy and female pleasure. It’s one of Betty’s last interviews, and it’s a gift to see her in action. One of the big things about this documentary is that Netflix was totally bold and awesome, and shared images of a variety of vulvas, and Betty did a masturbation practice with Carlin. Real, live female orgasm is so taboo, and this show gives us a peek into orgasm and connection in really new ways. There’s also a part featuring a coach that helps some of the Goop staffers practice presence and desire, and feel into themselves in order to cultivate self-love. Could they have done more for each aspect of the show, and gone deeper into the skills and practices? Yes, and it’s still really good.
Principles of Pleasure (documentary, series) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A three-part educational series that looks at female pleasure through a really inclusive lens. I think they do a good job of diversifying the featured voices for the experts (featuring Dirty Lola, Dr. Lori Brotto, and Emily Nagoski among other sexual wellness leaders) and the interviewees—brave women/femmes/non-binary folks talking about sex, pleasure, shame, and stigma across cultures, religions, ages, and relationship dynamics.
I liked the rather gentle approach to this series: it’s not only visually appealing with bright but soft graphics, it also has a very nurturing approach that I think would resonate with folks that are a bit more timid about sexuality. That being said, this softer approach also means that some information is not explained. I would have loved a deeper explanation of HOW to actually give yourself pleasure.
Sex, Love, and Goop (documentary, series) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This series is really well done, and helps couples explore lots of different topics about sexual wellness. Each couple is paired with an expert and goes through a different pleasure or relationship journey. The brave couples that are on the show have truly transformative experiences that are really magical and wondrous to watch. Highly recommended!
I particularly like that there are multiple experts: I loved seeing Miss Jaiya in action leading the middle-aged couple in an energetic and sensation-based exploration, and to see Goddess Amina help an older couple find their playful spirit; the profound transformation of the lesbian couple working with a sexological bodyworker to help them move through shame, acceptance, and pain to find pleasure on the other side. I cried at nearly every episode, watching these beautiful transformations, not only for the couples in the show, but also for the transformations I hope they inspire in ALL people that watch them. I hope this show opens lots of doors for folks that have asked themselves, ‘Is there MORE to sex?’ YES, there is.
Sex, Explained (documentary, series) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Another really well-done documentary (narrated by the glorious Janelle Monáe). Full of great experts and really interesting topics. Episodes include fantasy, attraction, birth control, fertility, and childbirth. This show also uses a mix of experts and interviewees, and has a fun, graphical approach to debunking myths and providing factually accurate sex education. It’s also quite explicit (showing some sexy scenes of group play, bondage and other kinky practices), which I think is pretty groundbreaking. Good job, Netflix!
The Mind, Explained (documentary, Season 1 // Anxiety) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Another part of the Explained collection, I’m including this episode about anxiety because anxiety is so very common, and it’s also a big deterrent to openness, curiosity and pleasure: all things needed for good sex. I like this documentary because it helps people understand how anxiety works, and some strategies to work with it. It took me years to get a handle on my anxiety—using meditation, breathing, and lifestyle changes (mostly cutting down on caffeine)—so I understand how hard anxiety can be on our bodies and minds. You deserve calm, and my wish for you is that this documentary helps you find your path towards a less anxious life.