Why Netflix’s ‘Intimacy’ Is A Very Important Show For Women

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I remember writing articles wherein I have written that women should refuse to get shamed for all the things that society tries to make us feel shamed for. But never have I in real life or on television seen a woman remain unapologetic for her choices despite the filth thrown upon her. And that is where ‘Intimacy’ is an important show for women.

Malen Zubiri, is the deputy mayor of Bilbao and soon to be declared the candidate for the mayor seat. She is powerful and intelligent and has everything going for her. Until one unfortunate day, a video of her having sex with an unidentified man on the beach is released in social media. Will her career and her family survive this humiliation?

Itziar Ituño as Malen Zubiri is brilliant. She refuses to be shamed, and it is not until the last two episodes that we see her soft side. I loved her strong character. Here is why the show worked for me:

• Shames belongs to the perpetrator

If a woman gets taped while having sex, and God forbid the sex tape is leaked ,the woman is a victim and she deserves sympathy not judgment. On some level, maybe we understand this but first and foremost the victim needs to understand this loud and clear: It is not her fault!

Men can be cruel to women when it comes to sex.  They think they have a right to shame women for having sex with them. For not having sex with them. For having sex with someone else.  For not being experimentative enough. For being experimentative enough. For not meeting their expectations of being a porn star. For being too dull. For being too wild. Unfortunately, women are vulnerable when it comes to sex and they believe any narrative that they are forced to believe.

I liked Malem Zubiri because she refused to get shamed. Atleast externally, she did not look affected.

“They are judging me because they saw me naked”. “Shame belongs to the perpetrators who did this to me.” She says.

• Family dynamics

Malem Zubiri is married woman. She has a teenage daughter. Malen seems to have some kind of an arrangement with her husband wherein he should be okay with her having sexual relations with another man. Still, I found the relationship between the couple and their daughter endearing even thought it was not conventional.

Even though Malem Zubiri’s husband fights with his wife, I never saw him speak ill about his wife to his daughter or his mother or to any third person. He even tells his daughter how strong her mother is that she would not “budge” despite all the filth her enemies tried to put on her.

At one point, the family is discussing their experience with bad dates as if they are friends, and not mother, father and daughter. Malem says, “Sometimes they tape you”, and smiles at her husband and her daughter who agree that she “wins”!

I liked this family. They may not be too conventional. But they genuinely cared for each other. That is what matters.

The woman who died

There is a character in the series, Ane who killed herself because she could not take the shame. Her sister, Bego continued to fight for her and it is painful to watch her pain.

Anee had a nice boyfriend but she was afraid that once he gets to know about her past he may see her differently. I felt bad for her. I know what it is like when there are some pieces of our life we wish nobody knew. Ane was brilliant as the woman who was desperately trying to keep her head high even though she was breaking inside as she was struggling to salvage the ONE thing about her life that she cared about – her life with her boyfriend.  Ane’s character is under so much pain that the audience would wish someone somewhere could help her.

In one scene Ane tells her therapist that her boyfriend thinks she will make a good mom. The therapist agrees to the thought of Ane being a good mother.

“How can you say so?” Ane asks.

The therapist, replies, “Because I don’t live in your head.”

That is precisely the point. It is very important to respect yourself even when you see everybody else ripping you apart. We saw different women get affected differently in the same unfortunate circumstances, because of course, not all people are the same. Some women are strong enough to fight but some may get broken down completely.

Another character is Leire, a teenager and also the daughter of Malen Zubiri. Leiri and Malen share a mother daughter moment when Leire asks her mother if she really liked the guy she was videotaped with. Malen says, “Yes, more than I wanted to” but “still less than what is needed”. She goes on give her daughter some wisdom on how much importance should be given to the boys in her life.

The women who fought

Ana Wagenor plays a cop who encourages women to fight against cyber crime. Being experienced in such crimes, she treats them like any other and knows the importance of reporting and punishing such acts. Bego, Ana’s bereaved sister is another character who is grieving yet emerges very strong towards the end. At one point she screams after her sister’s death – “Ana had every right to be naked. She had every right to have sex. YOU did not have the right to humiliate her.”

This series deserves a lot more praise than it has received. It is very real, and has showcased a variety of emotions not just in all the characters, but even in one single character. It is empowering in the true sense.

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