'Mrs. Fletcher' Merges The Fantasy & Reality Of Porn In One Standout Episode

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“Lick my nipples,” Eve Fletcher instructs her one-night stand Michael after throwing him onto the bed in a white wine-induced frenzy. Her cozy green sweater crumpled on the floor, she leans her head back in ecstasy, until — “Now you lick mine,” Michael instructs. The record scratches; the moment is spoiled. The titular Mrs. Fletcher (Kathryn Hahn) is amid a sexual awakening, but this moment in Episode 5 is her first foray into something physical.

“Eve has been living in a fantasy space since the show began,” says Mrs. Fletcher creator Tom Perrotta, who also wrote the book the show is based on. With her son out of the house at college and empty nesting for the first time, Eve has been fascinated by porn, but up until this point, she hasn't brought her desires borne of that interest into the bedroom. This episode, then, "is where she steps through that invisible fence that marks the line between fantasy and reality."

She meets Michael, a relatively dull man who immediately falls into line when she asserts the slightest authority. We watch her transform from the sweet, considerate, caregiving Eve into the gutsy, commanding Eve. When asked what she does for a living she curtly responds, “I watch a lot of porn.” She’s not lying.

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Back at his place, Eve is forced to confront the fact that fantasy does not always translate seamlessly into real life. The sex is far from perfection (he insists on sucking her fingers, humps her frantically, and finishes too quickly), but there is still something spectacular about the encounter.

“By no one's standards is it good sex,” Perrotta says with a laugh. “But when she walks out that door and that smile blooms slowly on her face, it's because she had an adventure and she is going to learn from it. It didn’t have to be great, it just had to require a certain kind of courage, and by taking charge of her own desires she made a big step forward and she is energized by it.”

Like Mrs. Fletcher's sometimes literally messy depiction of masturbation (like when Eve touches herself under the glow of her laptop screen, one hand shoved down her pants and the other holding a chocolate chip cookie), the show has little desire to make this one-night stand glossy or romantic. While society often keeps the sexuality of maternal figures at arm's length, Mrs. Fletcher unflinchingly depicts Eve's exploration of everything from spanking to MILF fantasies, and the audience is along for the ride.

“Eve is someone who is smoldering at the beginning,” says Elle McLeland, the staff writer behind this episode. “She has so much built up and untapped emotion, kind of like all of us. [The episode is about] finding a point in our lives where we feel comfortable to tap into that and believe it and let it get messy.”

In a brief scene earlier in the episode, Eve stumbles across a dog barking behind an invisible fence. She looks at the dog, sad and trapped, and pauses. By the end of the episode, Eve has scaled her own personal invisible fence. The shock it delivered wasn't a physical one, but an emotional and necessary one.