Review: Dying for Sex

My predictable Catholic criticisms aside, Wondery’s six-part podcast “Dying for Sex” is one of the most refreshing and emotional podcasts available. “Dying for Sex,” on the surface, is Molly’s sexual escapades to feel alive while she’s dying of terminal breast cancer. I say “on the surface” because, despite what Molly’s best friend and podcast host Nikki Boyer thinks, it’s not about sex and dying — it’s about friendship and dying. 

It wasn’t until episode four, when Nikki interviews Molly’s mom, that I realized Molly had already died. It was the first time I recall “was” being used to describe her. In episode seven (a bonus interview with Nikki), Nikki revealed that they had plans for season two; even Nikki didn’t know Molly’s time was so short, and thankfully, many of her last moments are recorded here.

The first three episodes are mostly about Molly’s bonkers and absolutely humorous sex stories. Most of these stories, for my comfort, are too taboo for my blog. They aren’t just taboo, though: they’re sad. Molly leaves her husband of more than a decade so that she can “explore” her sexuality before she inevitably dies. Through these stories, Boyer (as host) often gives Molly’s sexual counterpart a chance to tell their version of the story: that’s not the case with her ex-husband, whom Molly still seems rather positive towards. 

Episodes 4-6  are the real gold mines, though. Molly deteriorates, her relationship with her mom is broken and mended, and heartbreaking secrets to Molly’s past are shared for the first time — secrets that veer the listener’s perspective on Molly’s physical relationships with men. In the last episodes, as Molly is dying, Nikki asks her heart wrenching questions about death. Molly reveals that she doesn’t miss the sex, at all, she assures. Instead, Molly calls her mom up to the hospital and her best friend holds her hand to ameliorate the pain. 

It’s also in these episodes where the podcast’s true focus billows: the relationship between Nikki (as a character) and Molly. Boyer retells the moment of Molly’s death with such detail and emotion that it’s impossible to miss out on their friendship. Nikki knew Molly so well that one of the best parts of these later episodes is when Nikki translates what Molly says about how she feels to how she really felt. 

Even if you whole-sail reject the moral implications of this podcast, it’s production is so well done that it’s still worth the listen. The episodic progression from comedy to tragedy elicits a complete allegiance to Molly (and Nikki) that I haven’t experienced in a podcast before. 

(I put this in “Books/Comics” because I don’t have a “Podcast” section.)

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