Scott Porter once walked into a room of female coworkers who were in the middle of a conversation that confused him. “They were saying something about a ‘dirty bathroom floor,’ and I was like, ‘What the fuck does that mean?'” he recalled, laughing. “And then one of them said, ‘Dirty bathroom floor, go!’ and another said, ‘Ryan Gosling, in The Notebook. I would do him on a dirty bathroom floor.’ I finally got it. And that was girls having that conversation! We usually think that kind of stuff is reserved for the guys’ locker room, and it’s not.”
Cosmopolitan magazine, Sex and the City, and now The To Do List — all serve as reminders that women can actually explore their sexuality without it being part of some great romance. “Bill [Hader] likes to tell the story about how he went up to [writer/director] Maggie [Carey] and he said, ‘I really like the love story in this,” Porter said. “And she would say, ‘It’s not a love story. She just wants to get laid.’ ‘Oh, okay.'”
Brandy Klark, Aubrey Plaza’s protagonist in The To Do List, doesn’t just want to get laid — she wants to experience every sexual act leading up to and including intercourse, which she views as a final exam which requires a lot of study and preparation. Her goal is to have sex with her dream guy, Rusty Waters (played by Porter), but along the way, she encounters a lot of other guys, not all of whom are hook-up partners, such as her arch-conservative dad (played by Clark Gregg) and her summer job boss (played by Hader).
“I’m actually just a guy trying to help her,” Hader said. “But I’m also a stoner, deadbeat guy, so I have to help myself before I help her. I’m just giving her advice.”
Or at least, he tries to. Because the film is set in 1993, he actually has to physically go over to her house when she doesn’t pick up the phone. “He has to run to her house and knock on her door and try to interact with her face to face,” Porter laughed. A lot of the humor derives from the fact that Brandy’s endeavors take place in a pre-widespread Internet world, and her confusion about what some sexual acts might be, which causes her to seek advice in some strange places. Porter had a similar experience growing up in that era, before Google could answer your questions in seconds.
“You’d hear a term that you knew was filthy, and you’d self-define it,” Porter explained. “There was no Urban Dictionary. Some guy would say, ‘Oh, I heard about this thing called Dirty Sanchez,’ and one guy would just bullshit a definition for it, and that’s what we would think it was. I think some of the terms are regional. Like in the movie, she says ‘bumping donuts,’ and I had never heard that before. We called that particular act ‘scissor sisters.’ But all of that is just kids being kids and being idiots and trying to one-up each other with weird sex acts.”
Losing your virginity is sometimes depicted as a game of one-upmanship in coming-of-age films. “I remember the thing about losing my virginity is that once one of my friends did it, the rest of us were like, ‘Oh, no!'” Gregg recalled. “We were all fine being virgins together, and all of a sudden there was one of us who wasn’t. We thought he had superpowers! I’m pretty sure I saw him lift a car just with his eyes,” he added with a laugh. “But basically from then on, it was like an enormous clock was ticking in our hands.”
Gregg said that in his case, having the ticking clock made him and his friends think of nothing else, as well as suddenly become nicer to all the girls around them. In Porter’s case, he didn’t feel a ticking clock as pressure to lose his virginity, even though a lot of his friends “lost their V-card” earlier than he did. “I was a bit of a late bloomer,” he said. “I was a little bit more of a slow mover, and more of a romantic. I always had a girlfriend. I lost it towards the end of my high school career, and I didn’t attempt it again until late into college!”
But whatever your own experience might be, Porter pointed out, it’s a universal rite of passage, “and it never gets less awkward.” Revisiting these experiences for The To Do List and understanding a female perspective did help Gregg prepare a little bit for the inevitable sex talk he’ll have to have with his own preteen daughter some day. “I thought I would be the super cool, open-to-talk-about-sex dad,” he said. “And I’ll try. But she mostly wants to talk to my wife about it, and I’m not going to argue with that!”