Fifty Shades Darker Illustration Essay

The Fifty Shades franchise has given us so much — the rise of bored icon Dakota Johnson, hours of footage of Jamie Dornan’s best confused/acting face, a vision of life in a wealthy Seattle that’s actually Vancouver — but more than anything, it has delivered a lot of sex to the multiplex. By “a lot,” I’m simply referring to quantity, and by “sex,” I mean scenes in which two adults mimic the activities of humans engaging in intercourse, but with better mood lighting and a slowed-down pop song in the background. Because really, despite the fact that Jamie Dornan has the body of a hammerhead shark that willed itself into being a human with a Barry’s Bootcamp membership, the sex in the Fifty Shades movies never looks that great. Christian and Ana mostly prefer to go at it missionary style, with the occasional use of a prop or two, with all the vigor of college students in a stripped-down production of The Crucible.

So how good is the sex in the Fifty Shades movies, really? Which is the sexiest Fifty Shades sex scene? This is a question that we, and math, have set out to answer. We gathered up all of the key sex scenes from the franchise — i.e., those in which the characters have sex onscreen for an extended period of time, and penetration is depicted and/or implied — and rated them according to, to quote Anastasia Steele herself in Fifty Shades Darker, their “kinky fuckery.” (That’s two different metrics, since we’re gauging both adventurousness and sexiness.) This is entirely subjective, but we hope you’ll follow us on this journey of sexual discovery and riding in expensive vehicles, regardless.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Ana loses her virginity to Christian
Tools used: Just an old-fashioned penis and vagina.
Position: Missionary.
Notes: We see a lot of Christian’s butt, a supporting actor in the first Fifty Shades film, which seems to have gotten better offers elsewhere and appeared in fewer scenes in the sequels. There’s also a lot of kissing, which feels right for Ana on her first time.
Kinky rating: 0/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 2/5 eggplant emoji.

Ana’s first time trying bondage with Christian
Tools used: A gray tie.
Position: Missionary, but this time her arms are behind her head.
Notes: This is interrupted by Christian’s mom, so it’s over quickly.
Kinky rating: 1/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 0/5 eggplant emoji — thanks for ruining the moment, Marcia Gay Harden.

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Intro to bondage sex
Tools used: A tie, Ana’s shirt as a blindfold, an ice cube.
Position: Missionary tied to a bed, and then doggy style.
Notes: This scene is accompanied by Beyoncé’s “Haunted,” so it’s by definition pretty good.
Kinky rating: 3/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 4/5 eggplant emoji.

Ana and Christian’s contract discussion
Tools used: Legal jargon, pens, paper, the red mood lighting Snoke would later apply to his throne room inThe Last Jedi.
Position: Seated at a boardroom table in what appear to be ergonomic chairs.
Notes: Very sexy, in the suggestion of extreme kinkiness, though no sex is actually happening. The scene works well on film as it discusses all of the kinks that the characters never actually perform, forcing the audience to imagine them themselves. In other news, Dakota Johnson deserves an award for her delivery of the phrase “Find ‘anal fisting.’”
Kinky rating: 5/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 3/5 eggplant emoji, despite the fact there is no sex.

Ana’s introduction to the Red Room
Tools used: Handcuffs (to tie Ana to the fencelike thing above her), a crop for light tapping, ropes to tie Ana to a bed.
Position: Missionary, but he’s holding her up.
Notes: Christian insists on wearing his jeans even in his sex parlor, but is at least kind enough to let them sag them extremely low over his butt.
Kinky rating: 3/5 whips — a serviceable enough introduction to S&M.
Fuckery rating: 3/5 eggplant emoji — a serviceable enough, untoasted-bagel-with-cream-cheese kind of sex scene.

Red Room sex, version 2.0
Tools used: Rope to tie Ana to a bed, a blindfold, peacock feathers, a flogger (mostly used to dangle over Ana, with some light whipping).
Position: Missionary, but she’s tied to a bed; at one point, he does go down on her.
Notes: This is the most extreme anything gets in the first movie before Ana calls it off. The peacock feathers are a nice touch, but you do wonder how Christian is sourcing them. He does not seem like he’s one for ecologically minded sexcapades.
Kinky rating: 4/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 3/5 eggplant emoji.

Red Room sex, version 3.0
Tools used: Flogger (used six times on Ana’s butt).
Position: Ana is bent over a table.
Notes: The sex ends abruptly after Christian flogs Ana six times and she decides this is not something she is into.
Kinky rating: 4/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 0/5 eggplant emoji.

Fifty Shades Darker

Christian and Ana’s make-up sex
Tools used: Just love, baby.
Position: Christian goes down on Ana, then missionary.
Notes: Bonus points for a lot of Jamie Dornan sex, and for talking about Austen and Brontë postcoitally. Super-extra bonus points for Johnson’s delivery of the line, “I was being romantic and then you go and distract me with your kinky fuckery.”
Kinky rating: 0/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 4/5 eggplant emoji.

Sex in Christian’s childhood home
Tools used: A tie to tie Ana’s hands, Ben Wa balls (inserted before they head to this party, removed before sex), Christian’s hands for some light spanking.
Position: Missionary.
Notes: This is all in Christian’s childhood bedroom.
Kinky rating: 3/5 whips — the Ben Wa balls are something, but they really can’t innovate past missionary.
Fuckery rating: 2/5 eggplant emoji — there’s a Chronicles of Riddick poster lurking around there after all.

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Lipstick shower sex
Tools used: Water and a sponge, to wash off the lipstick on Christian’s chest demarcating where Christian does not like to be touched.
Position: Standing in a shower, some kissing, a lot of emoting.
Notes: Nobody involved seems to know how lipstick works, the sex afterward is mostly implied, but seems not too exciting, since Ana and Christian are both tired from a long night of being rude to Kim Basinger.
Kinky rating: 1/5 whips — if you consider lipstick a kink.
Fuckery rating: 2/5 eggplant emoji.

Spreadable bar sex
Tools used: A spreadable bar to push Ana’s ankles apart and (helpfully) stretch her hip flexors.
Position: Doggy-style (presumably the preferred missionary would be hard with the bar in the way).
Notes: Ana keeps her top on throughout this scene, which is odd considering Fifty Shades Darker’s love of boobs.
Kinky rating: 4/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 3/5 eggplant emoji.

Fingering in the elevator
Tools used: Christian’s finger.
Position: In an elevator.
Notes: There are other people in the elevator. The scene is scored to “Moondance” by Van Morrison.
Kinky rating: 3/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 2/5 eggplant emoji.

Engagement sex
Tools used: Blindfold, handcuffs, some oil, lightly drizzled as if garnishing a green salad.
Position: First in the shower, then in the Red Room, with Ana on her side as Christian is standing (and then missionary, of course).
Notes: Wow, these people love missionary sex.
Kinky rating: 4/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 4/5 eggplant emoji.

Fifty Shades Freed

Honeymoon sex on a yacht in the south of France
Tools used: Handcuffs to tie Ana’s arms to her legs.
Position: Missionary, duh.
Notes: Props to the married couple for keeping up the fun, but, like, an extremely limited number of props.
Kinky rating: 3/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 3/5 eggplant emoji.

Post–car chase sex
Tools used: N/A.
Position: Seatbelts unfastened.
Notes: After getting caught in a car chase, Ana and Christian decide to let off some steam while parked in a public parking lot.
Kinky rating: 2/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 2/5 eggplant emoji.

Blindfolded makeup sex with a vibrator that’s also sort of revenge sex
Tools used: Vibrator.
Position: Ana is tied to a wall in the Red Room.
Notes: Christian runs a vibrator over Ana’s boobs and then downward, but abruptly stops after she starts enjoying it, in order to teach her a lesson about how she’s edging him emotionally or something.
Kinky rating: 3/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 1/5 eggplant emoji — nobody needs a vibrator on their boobs.

Ice cream sex
Tools used: One pint of ice cream, silver spoon.
Position: On top of a table, and then missionary.
Notes: Christian and Ana take turns drizzling the ice cream Ana was originally (and sadly) eating late at night across each other’s bodies before licking it off.
Kinky rating: 3/5 whips — mostly for the thrill of the fact that this is definitely not sanitary.
Fuckery rating: 4/5 eggplants — mostly for the thrill of eating ice cream.

Red Room butt plug sex
Tools used: One of the many butt plugs Christian keeps on hand.
Position: Unclear, we only see it from Ana’s memory.
Notes: After giving us a glimpse of Christian’s extensive butt plug collection, Fifty Shades Freed cuts to Ana at work, sipping from a cup of tea and smiling. Is Ana still having herself some fun? Is she just wistfully thinking back to the well-polished butt silverware from the night before? We don’t know, and yet we can probably guess.
Kinky rating: 3/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 2/5 eggplant emoji — tell us more, Ana!

“We’re having a baby” sex
Tools used: Emotional violence.
Position: Mutual resentment.
Notes: After Ana tells Christian that she’s going to have a baby, they get into a fight in bed about their marriage that involves Christian telling her that he’s worried the baby will distract her from him.
Kinky rating: 0/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: 0/5eggplant emoji.

Topping from the bottom sex
Tools used: All sorts, one assumes.
Position: Ana is tied up in a room, but Christian closes the door before we see much of it.
Notes: After the bickering married couple finally makes up, Ana invites Christian up to the Red Room, where she’s all tied up and waiting for him. Before the movie ends, he jokes that she’s “topping from the bottom” and will have to punish her or something. Anyway, I’m glad these crazy kids found a way to both make it work and save Rita Ora, but since we don’t see what happens next, we can’t really rate this.
Kinky rating: ?/5 whips.
Fuckery rating: ?/5 eggplants.

Final rankings:
The sexiest scene: Ana and Christian’s engagement sex in Fifty Shades Darker.
The kinkiest movie:Fifty Shades of Grey, thanks to that contract negotiation scene.
The fuckiest movie: Fifty Shades Darker, thanks to all that lipstick.
The movie with the highest combined score of kinky fuckery: Fifty Shades of Grey.

Every Sex Scene in the Fifty Shades Movies, QuantifiedShare on Facebook

Who would have guessed that, when he was a boy, Christian Grey, the controlling, sexually sadistic bazillionaire at the center of E.L. James’ "Fifty Shades of Grey" juggernaut, was a "Chronicles of Riddick" fan? In a scene in "Fifty Shades Darker," the sequel to "Fifty Shades of Grey," Christian (Jamie Dornan) sits in his childhood bedroom and tentatively opens up to his girlfriend Anastasia (Dakota Johnson). Looming behind his head on the wall is a gigantic "Riddick" poster. Did the set decorator put the poster there to add texture? Backstory? Whatever the intent, having "Riddick" loom as the background image in a desperately serious, post-coital conversation was inadvertently hilarious. There's a lot of inadvertently hilarious stuff in "Fifty Shades Darker," directed by James Foley (and he'll be directing the final installment too, "Fifty Shades Freed”), with Johnson and Dornan back as star-crossed lovers Anastasia and Christian, respectively. These films take themselves extremely seriously, which makes them very easy targets.


“Fifty Shades Darker” starts with Christian waking up from a nightmare of the abuse he experienced as a child. This is the main thrust of the movie (puns are unavoidable): Christian’s unresolved trauma from his Dickensian past and whether or not Anastasia can help him heal. I don’t judge other people’s fantasies. But what works for E.L. James as fantasy fodder makes for tiresome viewing. Christian and Anastasia have subtext-free conversations, where Anastasia murmurs howlers such as, “So you pick women who look like your mother?” with a straight face. (Hats off, Ms. Johnson.)

2015's “Fifty Shades of Grey” (directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson) was a ponderous affair showing the prolonged foreplay before the actual foreplay. Would Anastasia sign Christian’s Byzantine contract of sexual consent? Would she agree to “anal fisting”? Tune in next week! That film ended with a sex game gone wrong, and Anastasia realizing that S&M actually involved, you know, pain. Learning this, she fled into the night. “Fifty Shades Darker” picks up shortly after that. Anastasia now works as an assistant editor in a small publishing house. Her boss (Eric Johnson) is a leering entitled predator who makes Christian look manageable by comparison. (Side note: another assistant in the office is named “Hannah” and so we are treated to multiple scenes with variations of: “Good night Anna.” “Good night, Hannah.” “Hannah, how are you?” “I’m fine, Anna.” etc. Was Hannah the only name available?)

Christian wants Anastasia back. He’s even willing to go “vanilla” if that’s her preference. It is, so they have vanilla sex, and everything is going great—with boat rides and masked balls and makeover montages—until … well, until all kinds of things, so many, many, MANY things—old lovers, a shady business deal, PTSD flashbacks, an attempted sexual assault, a helicopter careening out of control—intervene. (Screenwriter Niall Leonard had his work cut out for him adapting the book.) These two lovebirds cannot catch a break and “vanilla” cannot withstand such unbelievable pressure. Anastasia is drawn back into the web of Christian's desires. And she has fun with it, for the most part. Good for her.


The thing about Dakota Johnson—and it’s very important—is that she is unable to suppress her clear intelligence and, even rarer, sense of humor. It's so evident that it becomes a defining characteristic, as well as an important anchor for a film that desperately needs it. The dialogue is so silly and so repetitive that it could sink a far more seasoned actress. But she survives. There’s a goofiness about her, a charming awkwardness that feels organic; Foley was smart enough to realize how much Johnson's sense of humor helps the film. She was wonderful in Luca Guadagnino's “A Bigger Splash,” one of the best films of last year, playing a manipulative little sexpot who enjoys messing with the heads of the men in thrall to her. Up against some serious competition in “A Bigger Splash” (Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tilda Swinton), she more than held her own. Here, she's at the center. Johnson doesn’t quite make Anastasia distinctive or unique, but she does come off onscreen as reactive, and impulsive. She is not afraid of the material and also not afraid to show how absurd she finds some of it, how absurd she finds him. This is no small feat. She's fun to watch.

Kim Basinger shows up as Elena Lincoln, the oft-mentioned “Mrs. Robinson” in “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the older woman who initiated Christian into all the joys of bondage play, at the very same moment she was committing statutory rape. Basinger shows up as a Cassandra-like figure, hell-bent on warning Anastasia off. Bella Heathcote plays Leila, Christian’s “sub” before Anastasia, who is now out of her mind, stalking Anastasia through the streets, wearing raggedy clothes that make her look like an extra in “Les Miserables.” Marcia Gay Harden returns as Christian’s mother, overwhelmed with joy that her bizarre adopted son is involved with someone so normal. It’s a weird mix. There’s so much going on that the sex scenes are incidental, rather than the whole damn point. And that’s the worst sin of all.

There have been so many “think pieces” about “Fifty Shades,” the books and the movie, because whenever millions of women go crazy about something en masse, it becomes a National Concern. What does it MEAN that women respond to this? Both men and women participate in the concern-trolling. Why is a woman submitting to a guy’s misogynist demands considered sexy? Well, maybe because this is a fantasy, and fantasies don’t make sense. You can have a fantasy about being abducted by pirates and have no desire in real life to be abducted by pirates. Both Anastasia and Christian consent to the sex they have. This is not to say that Christian is not a nightmare. He is, but not because he wants to tie her up and spank her. He’s a nightmare because he blows a gasket when she has to go on a business trip. There are so many real things to worry about in this world. What people get up to behind closed doors, if they’re both into it, is not one of them.


However, when sex is presented as this serious (as opposed to a normal thing that consenting adults choose to do with one another—and the kinks here aren't all that "out there" anyway), you want everyone to just admit the absurdity of it. Sex can be—and often is—hot AND absurd. The 2002 film "Secretary," also about a dom-sub relationship involving a Mr. Grey, portrayed fear, desire, humor, simultaneously. In other words, “Secretary” had its ball-gag and ate it too. But “Fifty Shades Darker” is less interested in exploring how the power plays of S&M have to be negotiated (a rich topic), and more interested in the conventional narrative of a damaged man terrified of intimacy and a loving woman waiting for him to transform into the wonderful boyfriend that she knows is inside of him. “Fifty Shades Darker” may wear leather and chains, but it’s still a retro bore.

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