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.

More: Did it help that the director was a woman?
A.P.: For sure. I felt like we were on the same page, that we were sensitive to things that guys wouldn’t think about.

More: What was your character’s funniest misinterpretation of a sexual act?
A.P.: The pearl necklace thing was pretty funny: “That sounds really elegant.” Brandy is so sweet but so naïve—maybe naïve is the wrong word—she’s just literal. 

More: What are your hopes for the movie?
A.P.: I hope that people like it and that they think it’s really funny in a not funny-for-a-girl kind of way. That people don’t lump it in a category. I hope it makes it to Delaware, to my hometown. Actually, no, I don’t want my family to see it.

More: How does your family feel about the role?
A.P.: My family is very supportive. They’ll go with the flow, but you know, I’m a little nervous for my grandparents to see it. It’s a little out there. But the comedy will help.

More: Do you think guys will show up for The To Do List
A.P.: I hope guys will go, but there’s not a lot of topless girls in it. I hope guys will show up for like normal size cleavage. And there are funny guys in the movie.

More: Did you feel the kind of sexual pressure that Brandy does when you were a kid?
A.P.: A lot of girls do feel that peer pressure, but I don’t think I did. I went to a Catholic school, so I was very afraid of losing my virginity. I assumed I would immediately get pregnant with twins.

Next: Girls Gone Real: Hollywood's Image-Mocking New Stars

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First Published Mon, 2013-07-22 17:41

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