Skip to main content

Is ‘Minx’ on HBO Max based on a true story?

Second wave feminism has never been more fun.

Joyce and Doug look at a male nude model, whose legs are visible.

It seems that second wave feminism is having a cultural moment right now. First there was GLOW, the immensely popular (and yet inexplicably canceled) series about a female wrestling team in the early 80’s. Next came Mrs. America, in which Cate Blanchett’s Phyllis Schlafly went up against feminist luminaries Shirley Chisholm, Gloria Steinem, and Betty Friedan.

One of the most fun things about both of those shows is that they were based on true stories. There actually was an all-female wrestling show called GLOW (short for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling). And although Phyllis Schlafly will always leave a bad taste in your mouth, Mrs. America was an engrossing history lesson about the Equal Rights Amendment and other feminist initiatives in the 70’s. Now there’s a new 70’s era feminist show streaming on HBO Max called Minx. Is Minx based on a true story, too?

Minx tells the story of Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond), an aspiring feminist publisher who wants to spearhead a magazine called The Matriarchy Awakens. After pitching it to several publishing houses and having it turned down by their male heads, Joyce meets Doug Renetti, a pornography publisher. Doug convinces Joyce to rework her idea into a feminist porn magazine, which will feature both nude men and feminist writing. Hijinks ensue as Joyce and Doug work together to make their new magazine, Minx, a reality, with Joyce trying to get her message out to the public and Doug trying to raise the profile of his publications.

Minx started streaming on March 17, and it’s already earned praise from critics. The Hollywood Reporter calls Minx “a joy to watch,” with “flawless cast chemistry and snappy writing.” Our own Chelsea Steiner gave the series 5 out of 5 dongs, writing that “There’s a lot to enjoy with Minx, a smart and highly watchable series, and we’re excited to see where the show goes from here.”

The Inspiration for Minx

But is it true? Well, yes and no.

Joyce, Doug, centerfold coordinator Bambi, and the other colorful characters in Minx are fictional. However, the magazine itself is based on real women’s porn magazines from the 70’s! Ellen Rapoport, creator of the series, recently talked about the inspiration for Minx on The Hollywood Reporter‘s podcast, TV’s Top 5. Here’s what she had to say about the kernels of truth in Minx:

“I read something about one of these [women’s pornographic] magazines and it struck me immediately: these magazines in the 1970s were feminist magazines, which I’d had no idea about. It was a workplace that was populated by feminists and pornographers. If you’re a TV writer and read that and don’t immediately think ‘workplace comedy,’ they take away your WGA card.”

Which magazines is Rapoport referring to? First off, there’s Playgirl. Playgirl was founded in 1973 and became one of the premier erotic magazines for women, featuring nude centerfolds. The magazine ran until 2008, when it became a web-only edition. In 2003, editor-in-chief Michelle Zipp boasted that “no other magazine out there that caters to women in the way we do.” Although the magazine has always primarily catered to heterosexual women, it also has a large readership of gay men.

Another magazine that likely served as inspiration for Minx is Viva: The International Magazine for Women. Viva was also founded in 1973, and had a distinctly feminist bent to it, publishing work by writers like Simone de Beauvoir. Interestingly, Ana Wintour served as fashion editor before going on to begin her illustrious career at Vogue.

Then there was Suck: the First European Sex Paper, which was founded in 1968 and ran until 1974. Suck wasn’t so much a women’s porn magazine, but rather an LGBTQ+ underground zine celebrating free love, with Germaine Greer serving as one of its editors. It featured writing by William S. Burroughs, Michael McClure, and other writers.

So when you watch Joyce and Doug critically evaluating dong after dong after dong, know that you’re watching a little slice of history!

One last thing, since I know you’re getting ready to Google it right now: yes, there’s full frontal male nudity in the show. There’s a plethora of penises, a decadence of dongs, a cacophony of … all right, you get the idea.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself! Minx is now streaming on HBO Max.

(image: HBO)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and covers film, television, and books for The Mary Sue. When she's not making yarn on her spinning wheel, she consumes massive amounts of Marvel media, folk horror, science fiction, fantasy, and nature writing. You can check out more of her writing at, or find her on Twitter at @juliaglassman.