What to Watch Verdict
A trip to New York City and The Dick Cavett Show peels back the layers on Joyce and delivers a strong episode.
Getting a better sense of who Joyce is
Maggie is a friend and not a rival
Guest stars Hope Davis and Eric Gann
The Dick Cavett Show production design
No updates on Shelly
Ugh, Billy Brunson
NOTE: This post contains spoilers for Minx season 1 episode 8 "Oh, so you’re the sun now? You’re the giver of life?"
Joyce Prigger’s (Ophelia Lovibond) past has been touched on in Minx from her country club background to the Feminist Collective she ran at college, but these are all broad brushstrokes. We are finally let in on the events that led her away from writing for other publications to the dream of launching her own magazine, and the series shows a Joyce that is more than a know-it-all or uptight about sexuality. The episode ends with a deep rift while a change of coast offers a perspective shift that reveals the depth of Ellen Rapoport’s series.
“Oh, so you’re the sun now? You’re the giver of life?” opens with a flashback to Yonkers, N.Y., in 1968 with a floral dress-wearing Joyce on a commune. It's slowly revealed that Joyce has gone undercover for a New York Magazine story about misogyny in the anti-war movement, but it isn’t the big break she thought it was going to be. Rather, her research is co-opted by a young male writer and turned into an article comparing the so-called new radicals with the old. Joyce receives zero credit and doesn't even get feedback to reflect her contribution. Instead, the editor she has been sleeping with has already moved on to the next young employee.
Yes, Joyce has made compromises to get Minx off the ground, but up to this episode there has been an element of control regarding the content — and cover. That is until Doug (Jake Johnson) oversteps in a public arena and reveals himself to be another man who is like "an eclipse."
The title of this episode comes from Doug’s response to Joyce’s accusatory observation, but her point still stands even if he didn’t intend to overstep. "I will not allow people to treat me this way. Not anymore," is Joyce’s parting words to the Bottom Dollar boss.
This part of the fight occurs in private backstage at The Dick Cavett Show taping that began strongly for Joyce before the shag rug gets pulled out from under her — shoutout to the excellent production design of this late-night talk show set.
The reason why Joyce and Doug are in New York City is that Minx has caused a big enough stir to warrant an invite to network TV. The Dick Cavett Show did host a two-part discussion about pornography in 1971, so this is definitely based on reality. This familiar setting is elevated by Erin Gann’s performance, which taps into the famous host’s energy without being a straight-up impression.
Flashbacks intercut with Joyce prepping for her interview and as she successfully fields Dick’s questions, but a surprise appearance from one of her favorite feminist writers is the beginning of a tailspin.
Also backstage is Joyce’s friend Maggie (Gillian Jacobs), who she met during her time at New York Magazine and is the one person Joyce can rely on in the Big Apple. Any concerns Maggie was going to fall into the frenemy camp were put to be with the final shot of Maggie comforting the heartbroken Joyce.
How did we get from Joyce on top of her game enjoying a spirited conversation with Dick to the Minx editor thrusting her binder at Doug and effectively quitting? The short answer is fictitious NFL player Billy Brunson (Austin Nichols) who popped up spewing racist thoughts on TV in the fifth episode. Doug has already mentioned trying to score him for the magazine so this isn’t completely out of the blue, but he hadn’t told Joyce about this meeting or that he had secured the famous name. Billy’s disgusting comments also include homophobic and sexist remarks, so he isn’t the kind of man Joyce would go for, but all her publisher sees is dollar signs.
Doug arrives at the studio in his super sleazy fur coat mere minutes before Joyce goes on so he doesn’t have any time to update her with this news. He almost doesn’t make it as security can’t find his name on the guest list until they spot it as one of Joyce’s plus ones.
This does little for his ego and it goes some way to explain why he dials up his showman qualities when he is invited to join the on-air discussion with Joyce and feminist author Victoria Hartnett (Hope Davis). Once again, the art department has outdone themselves as Davis’ photo is on the cover of a book Shane is looking at in episode 4.
It doesn’t help that Doug was speaking candidly to Victoria in the green room, which leads to the big Billy Brunson announcement. He immediately apologizes to Joyce when they come off air and explains that he couldn’t resist the drum roll that Dick Cavett gave him to spill this humiliating news. Joyce thinks the whole thing was staged and even when Doug explains it was spontaneous it doesn’t make it any better. She is crushed and simply cannot carry on with this partnership.
Back west, Bambi (Jessica Lowe), Richie (Oscar Montoya) and Tina (Idara Victor) have a watch party — sadly, Shelly is absent entirely from this episode. Tina receives a fresh bunch of roses that the others believe points to a new beau, but when Richie finds the card is from Doug, the word "again" confirms this is far from the first time Tina and Doug hooked up with.
There is much more to this duo than meets the eye. While Bambi is pro this union, Richie is skeptical when Tina says it feels different this time. Richie just wants the best for her and as giddy as some may be after that initial kiss, Richie as the voice of reason brings things crashing back down to earth. Doug doesn’t mean to screw up but he seems to do it anyway. Let’s hope Tina isn’t another casualty in his wake and Minx magazine can ride out another storm as it heads into the final two episodes of the season.
Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.