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23 November 2021

Gwyneth Paltrow - The Goop Lab’s New Approach to Couple’s Therapy

Tatyana Deryabina

Gwyneth Paltrow’s new project, Sex, Love & Goop, premiered on Netflix in October of this year. This is Gwyneth’s second series - the first one sparked massive reactions on the internet due to the questionable lifestyle advice presented on the show. Everyone assumed something similar was awaiting us this time around, but our expectations were far exceeded. Needless to say, we were pleasantly surprised. Tatyana Deryabina, a sex professional, reviews Sex, Love & Goop and tells us why the show turned out to be a rather useful, thoughtful piece of work.

It seems everyone has heard of Gwyneth Paltrow and her company Goop by now. The initial message of the brand was educating people on lifestyle, beauty, health, and sex. The issues between Goop and the audience started right away as the advice was deemed a little controversial. Gwyneth would recommend people to stay away from WiFi (supposedly, due to radiation), avoid tomatoes (cancer, apparently?), walk barefoot to heal depression, hit the gym and cut off carbohydrates (nothing new, really) to lose weight. Later, Goop launched its own web store, the assortment of which could probably compete with Amazon considering the amount of arguably useless things they were selling. From chakra healing stickers to energy vampire repellents and all the other stuff no one has heard of - nor is it backed by science - at an impressive price point as a cherry on top. And of course, we can’t forget the infamous Goop candle that ‘smells like Gwyneth’s private parts’ – everyone was talking about it. 

So, when I was asked to check out Gwyneth’s new project Sex, Love & Goop, I was quite intrigued, as one could expect pretty much anything from her – maybe even rose quartz vagina juggling tutorials. To my surprise, however, the show is the opposite of what I thought it would be.

The concept of the series is rather simple: five guest couples with different issues, mostly in regards to their sex lives. Felicitas and Rama want to bring the spark back into their relationship, Erika and Damon are trying to deal with their sexual differences, Camille and Shandra are learning to accept each other’s desires, Mike and Joie are working on their temperamental mismatch, and Dash and Sera are seeking to understand where the negativity in their relationship stems from. Each couple gets a therapist that specializes in the according area, and so the magic begins...

When I say magic, I don’t mean that spiritually – that’s what the show didn’t have much of, to my surprise. Except, maybe, a couple mentions of ‘energetic orgasm’ here and there. I’m talking about the magic each therapist creates while working with their couple. The magic of mutual empathy, acceptance, honesty, care, and love.

I also have to mention how conscious, self-aware, mindful, and understanding every therapist and coach on the show is. You would think that is exactly what a good therapist should be like – and yet I couldn’t help feeling astonished by their careful work ethic and how thoughtfully they were interacting with the participants. If they made me, the viewer, feel loved and cared for - I can only imagine how effective working with them could be. 

For instance, during one of the episodes Jaiya, a somatic sexologist, gives advice to one of the participants who thinks she’s not sexually forward enough:

“You like it a certain way - and that’s okay. You’re not broken – nothing about you is broken, in fact. You simply like it that way.”

Felt that? I surely did.

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My favorite expert on Sex, Love & Goop was Amina Peterson, a sex coach working with a mature lady to help her accept and embrace the changes in her body. Instead of my positive review, I’ll simply present you with my favorite quotes by Amina:

“There are a lot of messages that we have taken in since that big, as girls, as women, telling us what our bodies were supposed to look like. And that negativity shows up for us oftentimes in intimate spaces. We don't really, fully wanna be seen. ‘I don't want you to touch my belly, I don't want you to touch this part.’ We have so much internalized misogyny, and fatphobia, and ageism that we're always looking for something to fix. ‘Oh, if my butt was a little bit bigger or my waist was a little bit smaller."


“Intimacy is so much about being witnessed. And a lot of us struggle with being witnessed by others because we don’t even allow ourselves to witness ourselves. If I am unable to look at myself, how am I going to allow my partner to look at me? How am I going to get to a space where I experience true intimacy with a partner if I’m terrified of self-intimacy? If I’m scared that somebody else will see something that I don’t allow myself to see?”

What amazed me about the show was that it’s not strictly educational or based on certain therapeutic tactics, nor is it a product placement to promote Goop store goodies. It’s not one of those shows that tell you “okay, here is the vibrator, this is your clitoris, thank me later” and the advice given is far from “grab him here, bite there - he’ll go crazy”. Sex, Love & Goop is, first and foremost, about understanding yourself and your partner and learning to communicate as the only way of finding harmony within a romantic relationship.

I cannot say I fully agree with one of the key messages of Sex, Love & Goop, which would be placing sex life achievements as the path to fulfillment. To me, it’s more so an integral part of life - not the end goal and not the purpose. The most important thing here would be to remember that we’re all different and there’s no universal recipe to finding yourself and embracing your sexuality. We are all unique beings - we’re beautiful, sexy, worthy. And we all deserve love.


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