“Love Addicts” kicks off an eight-episode drama series on Amazon Prime that sees itself as the German answer to Netflix’s “Sex Education” success, as announced in a related press release. This phrase, introduced for promotional purposes, would certainly not be needed, since “Love Addicts” not only talks very openly about sex, but above all about itself. On the one hand, this is the merit of the team of the main author Julia Drake and the directing work of Janos Chavez-Kreft and Arabella Barch, as well as the actors.
At the Love Addicts center, four 20-year-olds from a sex and love addiction therapy group find themselves in one absurd situation after another. They suffer from completely different problems. Sometimes about female dominance and the absence of real feelings, sometimes about sex against the backdrop of inner emptiness or pathological romanticization. The sessions are hosted by Anya, played by Annette Fryer. Their outspoken patient Zoe plays newcomer Malaya Stern Takeda. The two talk to ntv.de about their own education, the myth of the hymen, and sex and masturbation in front of the camera, among other things.
ntv.de: Malaya, what did you especially like about the role of the very open Zoe?
Malaya Stern Takeda: I was interested in this character because he is so ambivalent, inconsistent in terms. She also has longing and pain. It’s also special for me because it’s my first big role. Just because of my appearance, I often get really stupid requests that are very flat and conspicuous. Then I feel like some strange projection screen. It was one of the first lucrative deals that didn’t just say “young East Asian woman” in the description.
Annette, you play a psychotherapist for four 20-year-old lovers, including Zoe. What convinced you about the storyline?
Annette Fryer: Well, it took me a while. I just got a little crazy. I found the subject of dependency exciting, but you are automatically responsible for it. To tell about this in an entertaining way is not an easy task … The height of the fall seemed interesting to me. It was immediately clear to me that you need really strong actors and actresses so that you stick to it, and not remain just a claim. It’s all exaggerated, compressed to 25 minutes per episode. Then I looked at my colleagues in the four main roles and said: “Yes, I will take part in this.” Four convinced me because they are really good.
Takeda: But you’re fine too. (laughs)
Malaya, can you personally identify with the sexualized Zoe?
Takeda: The role is very open, but I’m not. Actually, I’m more Nele (another character of “Love Addicts” – note d. Krasny.). I like novels. My friends are also on all these dating apps, and I never downloaded them. So yes, immediately – for the role. To see how it works and what it looks like? I was completely stunned. So I can’t represent this generation of youth so frankly now, it scared me.
Fryer: You showed real impudence.
Takeda: I think I would like to see a character like this before, especially in a cast like me. Zoe doesn’t sexualize on the outside, she sexualizes herself when she feels like it. I think it’s cool.
Especially when it comes to sex, it can get awkward in front of the camera or the end result. Not so with “Love Addicts”…
Fryer: That’s why you have to think very carefully at the beginning if you want to participate. It’s insanely hard to film sex well. If you don’t have enough time, it quickly looks like crap. And there was a lot of discussion so that you really get the time you need at the right moments. I think it worked out really well overall, also because it was all discussed beforehand and taken seriously. So that the indecent remains decent and you get a buzz from it – in the best sense of the word. It’s only superficial about sex. It’s actually about four people who are looking for and wanting to be loved.
How much strength does it take to rub against a balloon as Zoe to masturbate in front of the cameras?
Takeda: You must have the faith to dedicate yourself to this. We were very lucky with the intima coordinator. And I’m from the theater, used to rehearse. I tried it too. I played with this balloon for an hour, and then I sort of figured out where to go and how comfortable I was with it.
Eleven million people use Tinder alone, as well as various other dating apps. Doesn’t that make love – the show’s actual theme – a disposable product? Or does it just make it easier to initiate?
Fryer: Malaya already has a lot of love, so she can’t answer that question. She is a very romantic person, and I am a witness to that. Malaya loves Kurt Kromer. There had been a lot of blood rushing to her cheeks over the past few months.
Takeda: (laughs) And now again.
Fryer: I don’t want to ignore your real relationship. But I think he knows, right?
Takeda: I bought a book of correspondence between Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan. I would like to read this along with Kurt Kremer.
Maybe he will read this interview here and contact you. But going back to sex from your romantic love for Kurt – do you remember how you were enlightened?
Takeda: I only know that one day my mother said at the dinner table, “Use a condom!” I was 15 at the time. It was like, “She knows anyway.” She said it with all her love, even if it doesn’t sound right now.
Fryer: My memories are pretty blurry. I would say that it was a little my mother, definitely not my father, a little TV and secret conversations with other girls. But my last enlightenment was not so long ago. I got a call from a former high school friend who runs the Holla! Muslim Women’s Association. in Cologne. There I took part in a seminar on humor and feminism. Before that, my friend said to me: “But we are also going to talk about the hymen on the same day. Are you enlightened? Do you know that the hymen doesn’t exist?” That’s when I really got into swimming.
To be honest, I haven’t bothered with this topic since the late 80s. Any news?
Fryer: Of course! She gave me a lot of information about it. I’ll take this opportunity guys: the hymen doesn’t exist. It’s the hymen myth that I grew up with. Operations, for example, for young Muslim women, which are also performed in German clinics, including for the restoration of the hymen … They can use something that gives the feeling that something is here again. But there was never anything. A woman bleeds on her first intercourse due to minor injuries. It has nothing to do with the so-called hymen.
Malaya, did you know about this?
Takeda: (laughs) Yes, indeed.
Zoe takes a very self-confident approach to the topic of sex, which has had a masculine connotation for a long time. How important is it to finally and completely break these role-playing clichés in films and TV shows? To speak to women differently than has been customary up to now?
Takeda: It bothered everyone. There was never any discussion about how to do it, everyone wanted to move in the same direction. I was wondering if Amazon should be smooth on my body. I then asked, and they said: “Just do what you want.” It was cool. I don’t know if you will see it. I watched all eight episodes but didn’t notice my armpit hair. (laughs)
Fryer: There is still a lot of room for improvement. It’s not every day that amazing scripts come in, and I’m wondering how I can shoot it all. Something is definitely happening, but there is still a lot of uncertainty. Old problems have not yet been removed from the table, they still have to be fought.
Nicole Ankelmann spoke with Annette Fryer and Malaya Stern Takeda
“Love Addicts” will be available on Prime Video starting November 30th.