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Minx season 1 episode 9 review: falling apart

The magazine struggles without Joyce at the helm.

Idara Victor looks at Jake Johnson explaining something in Minx
(Image: © Katrina Marcinowski / HBO Max)

Our Verdict

Joyce learns the grass isn't always greener in a stakes-raising penultimate episode.

For

  • An important milestone in Joyce's growth
  • Costume designer Beth Morgan Sanford delivers once again
  • The Barbie/Shelly dynamic
  • Richie makes a stand

Against

  • More Tina scenes would help establish why she isn't pushing back against Doug's bad choices
  • Billy Brunson is meant to be awful and his centerfold shoot is maybe too effective in conveying this

NOTE: This post contains spoilers for Minx season 1 episode 9 "A scintillating conversation about a lethal pesticide."

The fallout from Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) and Doug’s (Jake Johnson) trip to New York continues as the Bottom Dollar publisher pushes ahead with his plan to put controversial NFL player Billy Brunson (Austin Nichols) on the cover. This choice does not go over well with the rest of the Minx team and the magazine is at risk of falling apart shortly after it found success. The penultimate episode raises the stakes while Joyce stays in the Big Apple with her friend Maggie (Gillian Jacobs), but the grass is definitely not greener on the east coast. 

With Maggie, Joyce is being offered a taste of the lifestyle she has long dreamed of. She didn’t pack enough clothes for the extended trip, but Maggie tells her to pick something out of her closet, which is packed with tailored windowpane check suits (and matching capes). Costume designer Beth Morgan Sanford continues to hit all the right notes, whether its Doug’s sleazy threads or these chic staples. 

Joyce stops by the Betsy magazine office — a fictitious title with a hint of Ms. Magazine’s influence — and it is a white feminism paradise. Everyone looks like Joyce and this is pretty much the environment she envisioned when she tried to breathe life into the Matriarchy Awakens.

Of course, Minx opened her eyes to another side of the publishing industry and this episode marks a major milestone in her arc. In the past, she would’ve jumped at the opportunity to pen a piece for Betsy and embrace the attention from Maggie’s friendship group, but she knows there is more to the world than making judgy comments about models who work in the adult entertainment business.

Ophelia Lovibond in Minx

Ophelia Lovibond in Minx (Image credit: Katrina Marcinowski / HBO Max)

Last week, Minx avoided the obvious frenemy trope with Maggie and it does so again in "A scintillating conversation about a lethal pesticide." It's an important distinction that Maggie thinks she is a good friend and can’t understand why Joyce left the dinner party halfway through.

The "scintillating conversation" shifts from pesticides to Joyce’s job and the Bottom Dollar models. "They’re nothing like us," Maggie shoots back when Joyce suggests the women who work in porn are similar to them. These holier-than-thou comments are indicative of the conversations about "saving" women in this industry, which drip with condescension.

Joyce didn’t intend on ditching the dinner when she goes to get more ice from the nearby bodega, however, she embarks on an impulsive adventure after spotting the hot guy she saw from her window earlier that day. Joyce trails behind him to a bar and an uninhibited night of drinking, dancing and no-strings sex follows. 

By the time she gets back to Maggie’s apartment, everyone has left and her friend is shocked by the out-of-character behavior — yes, that is a hickey on her neck. Maggie is blunt and tells her Minx is the one thing that makes her interesting and her New York social standing is salvageable if she writes apology notes to the other guests. The likelihood of this happening is slim and I expect Joyce will be on the next flight back home.

Minx needs its editor-in-chief, as Doug has managed to bring the publication to its knees with a few bad choices. Yes, he is lining up Wendy Mah (Alicia Hannah-Kim) as Joyce's replacement, but her demands are not realistic for the Bottom Dollar bottom line. Not only that, but the only person sticking by Doug is Tina (Idara Victor), which is more out of loyalty than anything else. Yes, he offers her the managing editor role, but the damage he has done to the brand has to be undone first. 

Jake Johnson and Alicia Hannah-Kim sit in a restaurant booth in Minx

Jake Johnson and Alicia Hannah-Kim in Minx (Image credit: Katrina Marcinowski / HBO Max)

The Tina and Doug dynamic is complicated further by the romance that is still in full bloom. Doug is at his most stubborn in this episode and it is a case of Tina gently managing the situation (while also trying not to get heartbroken), which leaves us wanting more from this storyline.

Bambi (Jessica Lowe) raises her objections to the centerfold concept, which includes a request for multiple topless female models. She comments it isn’t very Minx-y and she walks out when her observation is ignored, as there is no point arguing. She meets up with Shelly (Lennon Parham) to get the lowdown on where Joyce is. However, Shelly is still not speaking to her younger sister after Joyce’s comments on the radio about her stale bedroom antics with her husband.

Shelly's attempts to get her marriage back on track in the bedroom are proving futile, but Bambi has a few ideas about how to reignite the spark. She takes Shelly back to her place to capture some sexy photos as a jumping-off point. 

The last time this pair spent time together they ended up in jail and Shelly had an epiphany about her identity outside of being mother and wife. In that episode, there is an element of Shelly not wanting to cross a line with Bambi, which pointed to unspoken romantic chemistry; she has avoided the Minx workplace since. However, in this private space, Shelly embraces the unknown and this new sexual experience with Bambi.

Back at the office, Richie (Oscar Montoya) attempts to photograph the centerfold shoot but is aghast when Billy insists on being erect for the snaps. This is illegal and there is no way to shoot around this "very hard" body part. Richie sarcastically quips he can "set the exposure to flaccid" before walking out and leaving Doug to take the photos himself. Yes, this issue will sell out — if they are allowed to sell it — but the Minx name will be tarnished. 

The challenges laid out for the season 1 finale are many and the penultimate episode hits the spot — even if Doug is making some terrible choices. 

Emma Fraser
Emma Fraser

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.