*Warning* Explicit Language & Content Reviewed
“Everything is cool for the first few seconds. Then I remember what I’m like, and the fact that I’ve got to be that today and tomorrow, and everyday until I’m not.”
There isn’t a person on this planet who hasn’t woken up to this thought. Being human can be a pain in the ass. But the notion of what thoughts make up our ‘personality’ is a hard one to gauge. We are generally the heroes of our own narrative, and the external world full trials and tribulations.
Not so for Marnie. When we first meet our 24 year old Scottish protagonist, she has been struggling with a mental barrage of unwanted filth for 3672 days, roughly 10 years. Her intrusive sexual thoughts are intense, and it is costing her sanity.
Still living with her parents after returning from University, home-life is a safe haven, free of intrusive sexual thoughts about her family. Until today, that is.
Roughly 5 minutes into the first episode, we have already seen by far the worst possible sexual deluge her mind has ever borne, and are standing with her on the roadside waiting for a bus. Destination London, 500 miles from home.
The show’s pacing is insanely snappy, which is a double-edged sword. Whilst we get quick and direct access to Marnie’s inner turmoil, the amount people Marnie befriends in a week is somewhat unbelievable in the unfriendly big city.
That isn’t a total turn-off.
Anyway, a show as achingly fabulous as this should have at least one negative. For balance. The pacing does spring from Marnie’s desperation, however. Her early encounters spring from this, so while flinging herself into new situations we see the pivotal drama unfold. We are watching her central identity unravel.
This makes for more delicious turmoil in funny and poignant moments. Close-ups of her twitching features are at times hilarious as she imagines grabbing crotches, snogging women…even ‘going down’ on her mother!
Show makers also tenderly highlight the claustrophobic nature of these episodes. Just how damaging they can be to a young mind. In attempting to deter them, Marnie also labels herself a “pervert”, fearing she might actually want to fulfil her filthy mental conjurings.
The humour and pathos is balanced on a knife-edge as she rationalises “did my nipples just quiver? Yeah, but ‘cos of anxiety. Not ‘cos I’m turned on.”
Juxtaposing her plight with that of a man befriended at a sex addiction meeting, we see how sex entangles us in many ways. Countless shows tackle this, yet Pure corners the market in observing how sex can destroy otherwise healthy lives.
The balance struck between sexual taboo and human psychology is refreshing. Marnie’s visit to a counsellor shows the prominence of intrusive thought.
Counsellor: “Tell me about your last intrusive thought.”
Marnie: “I was thinking about fingering you.”
Counsellor: “I was thinking about stabbing you in the face with my pen, and how I would have to pay the cleaner extra because of the blood and the ink stains.”
The most refreshing thing, however, is how engrossing the central storyline is. As usual, there is the thread of a love-triangle, how could there not be? But no, the real draw is Marnie with her anxious outbursts and awkward, loveable charm, coupled with the friends, fights and resolutions. Throughout this I genuinely couldn’t give a toss if she ends up with a man. This lovingly crafted storyline is about so much more than that.
Wit and positivity survives, despite her anguish. I was rooting for her, every step of the way. Whilst this constant barrage fills her mind, she fights a lone battle, discovering who she is.
Whilst sex embalms everything this show touches, Marnie’s strength is in limiting its real-life impact. The true journey is in choosing the people who have your back, and the love, patience and kindness the characters show themselves and each other. A work in progress for sure. Something we can all relate to.
It goes without saying that this is a show bursting with sexual trigger warnings. But if you have a strong ability to deal with cringe and sexual imagery, you will not be disappointed.
The show aired on Netflix in the UK in 2019, and I have no idea when we will see more. But rest assured, I am horny for it.