Sex Before the Internet

Aubrey Plaza’s raunchy “To Do List” recalls a time when teens couldn’t Google for information

by Susan Toepfer • MORE Features/Entertainment Editor
aubrey plaza the to do list image
Not exactly "The Joy of Sex": Plaza tries to find sexual positions in the dictionary in "The To Do List," set in 1993.
Photograph: Bonnie Osborne

“I’ve never done a sex scene before,” says Aubrey Plaza of The To Do List (opening July 26). “It’s like going from zero to a million.”

In the new female-oriented comedy from Maggie Carey, Plaza plays brainy Brandy Klark, a high school valedictorian determined to lose her virginity—and chalk up a variety of erotic experiences—in pre-internet 1993. Back then, googling sexual acts was not an option, so Brandy has to rely on her friends’ limited experiences and her own creative interpretations as she tries to cross off items on the lascivious list.

Writer-director Carey, who jokingly says that the script was inspired by “my first hand job,” shared her 1993 diaries with Plaza, 29, to take the actress back to the era. “It was fun to put yourself into that mindset,” Plaza says, “but I also read my own diaries.”

The spectacularly busy young Parks and Recreation star—she has several other film projects in the works—spoke to More about her first leading role. 

More: How do you feel about this new wave of bawdy female comedies?
Aubrey Plaza: I think it’s awesome! It’s great that there are more movies and TV shows that are female-centric and kind of honestly portray the female point of view of sex. The HBO show Girls is a great example of that. If our movie is being lumped in that category of showing sex at a certain age, it’s really cool. In the past, those movies have focused on the male’s first time; there’s not a ton that go for it from a female perspective. So whether people like it or not, it’s important that it’s being done. 

More: What was the most difficult scene for you?
A.P.: Every scene was difficult. It is a comedy, so that relieved the pressure. But the scene where I’m losing my virginity—it’s funny, but a real scene. It’s a crazy thing to capture on film and very scary for me.

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