Why TLC’s Sex Sent Me To The ER Might Be the Best Damn Show on TV
It’s about sex. And the ER. And how having one often results in going to the other. On TLC.
By Pilot Viruet
Sex Sent Me To The ER gets straight to the point. The entire premise is right in the title – each episode tackles three different stories about couples landing in the emergency room after (or during) sex. It’s a show that begs to be made fun of. The reenactments are all laughably terrible and star overdramatic actors out-moaning even the loudest of porn stars.
Their real life counterparts aren’t the brightest bunch either—“I look at things and see what they could be,” says one adventurous male before marveling, “That could be a great tree to have sex in!” He later gets nearly 30 stitches in his leg after falling out of said tree while romancing his new girlfriend; maybe the tree was nothing more than average. Then there is the show’s home – TLC, a network whose very name has become a punch line since it stopped being a (never mind “the”) learning channel and started airing a lineup featuring Toddlers & Tiaras, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, and, for a brief period of time, an entire show dedicated to mall cops.
Sex Sent Me To The ER isn’t a huge departure from TLC’s regular programming (they once had a series called Strange Sex) because it manages to be vaguely serious while also remarkably silly: an eager virgin accidentally slams his girlfriend’s head straight through a sheetrock wall just narrowly missing a wooden beam, a coked-up married man is thrown out of a window after angering a prostitute, a man fractures his penis with an ironing board during sex with a woman who then gets her tongue bitten off in the hospital by the man’s wife. Are you even following this?
Later, all three kiss, make-up, and exchange apologies. “I’m sorry for biting your tongue.” “And I’m sorry for fracturing your penis.” I’m sorry for watching this show, but I can’t stop.
Most of the stories are played for laughs, like the tree guy—while he’s bleeding on the ground, his girlfriend worriedly straddles a branch and finally admits that she lied on her dating profile. She actually hates nature. In one especially entertaining case, an 18 year-old girl is brought to the hospital because her jaw is dislocated and stuck open—she says she yawned too hard but we all know where this is going—and she seems more into texting than into getting her jaw fixed. It turns out that she’s texting her boyfriend, just a few feet away, who dislocated his shoulder jumping out of her bedroom window. The doctor puts two and two together, the father is mostly clueless, and the teens are both painfully fixed up. It’s basically the funniest oral sex cautionary tale I’ve ever seen, so take that, sex comedies.
Sometimes the stories are a little more worrisome, such as the whiskey-swilling rocker who collapses after an orgasm and loses feeling in the left side of his body, but still waits over a day to go to the hospital and discover he had a stroke. Another man completely passes out, eyes rolling back in his head, and an ambulance has to be called. It takes a while to figure out the underlying cause because his girlfriend is too embarrassed to admit it happened during sex.
This shame and secrecy is a common theme linking the stories. Most of the couples that show up to the hospital aren’t too eager to tell the staff exactly what happened (one woman was worried she’d run into someone she knows, others are too embarrassed to admit their injury was sex-related even when it was clearly was). The patients often lie (“I fell on back and hit my penis!” “I tripped and somehow slid inside of the wall!”), making the doctor’s job harder to do.
For all of the silliness in Sex Sent Me To The ER, it’s also a show that’s seemingly aiming to help people feel more comfortable by sharing these stories and interviewing ER doctors. The doctors all reiterate that there is no need to lie, these things happen all the time—one report claims that sex-related injuries land people in the hospital twice a week—and that everyone in the hospital has seen everything. It’s a judgment free zone on Sex Sent Me To The ER; the doctors shrug off unconventional couples/sex, dislocated jaws, and fractured penises and move on to their next patient.
Like the best reality shows, Sex Sent Me To The ER is an addicting train wreck. After a supply closet romp goes awry and a man describes his girlfriend’s injury by deadpanning, “Her vagina was like, flipped inside out,” you’ll want to smash the television and keep your legs closed forever. But when the show switches gears to a woman’s three-hour orgasm, you’ll perk back up and daydream about breaking that record. Some lessons learned: hopping up and down, drinking wine, and hanging upside down off your bed won’t stop your orgasm. Antihistamines might, but only temporarily. Also, antidepressants may be the cause of spontaneous, prolonged orgasms? Her entire story was weird and inexplicably ended with her dressed up in an Oktoberfest beer maid costume. But don’t worry; everything ends up fine, especially for the reenactment actress who now has 20 minutes of moaning to go on her reel.