When you die, the last thing you want your loved ones dealing with is all the porn you left behind. But there’s a big difference between a dubious browser history and the kind of porn Sofia (Natalia Lage) discovers after her husband Alexandre takes a fatal tumble off the family home’s balcony. The former you can sort out by closing your eyes and hitting ‘clear cache’; what she has to deal with requires a more… hands on approach.
Fortunately, she doesn’t have to do it alone.
One of the first things you notice about Hard is that for a comedy, it doesn’t make a joke of Sofia’s grief. Her husband dying in the opening scene while trying to grab a drone out of a tree might be funny, but the way she’s left bereft isn’t played for laughs. Which in a way makes what’s to come even funnier: she’s the straight man who finds herself in a pansexual world.
We might know what lies ahead (Hard is a Brazilian adaption of a 2008 French series that’s previously aired on SBS), but it’s not until her husband’s funeral that the former lawyer starts to suspect something isn’t quite right. All the family and friends that she knows are there, but there also seems to be an awful lot of people she’s never met before turning up in outfits that seem a little too sexy.
Fortunately her mother-in-law Margot (Denise Del Vecchio) is there to fill in the gaps in her knowledge – and it seems there’s some pretty big ones.
Margot is a no-nonsense, matter-of-fact, straight-shooter type. Which is handy, because her son was secretly running a porn studio and she was the one handling the books. Turns out that the tech company he told Sofia was keeping her in luxury (seriously, their house is amazing) failed on take-off, while the secret porn company he started has been going from strength to strength. He even named it after her: SofiX
Alexandre and Margot kept Sofia in the dark because they knew she was a bit of a prude who wouldn’t accept how he was really making a living. But now Margot gives it to her straight; Alexandre left the porn business to her, and they all have to deal with the new status quo – starting with a tour of the office.
There she meets her new right-hand man Pierre (Fernando Alves Pinto), who she first ran into at the funeral (he was the guy with the neck tattoo). Here he’s the man who makes everything run smoothly. Which is more difficult than you might think, because while the business started out as a fairly traditional porn venture, various changes in the market over the years have forced them to cater to a more… niche audience. We’re talking whips, chains, and animals (there’s a chicken); it’s a smorgasbord of sleaze.
In putting a Brazilian spin on a French classic, Hard updates the setting to the modern porn business, where online competition and streaming videos have made it a very different place. So while this series successfully mines laughs (and drama) from the world of porn, this update is even more about the challenges Sofia will face as she tries to change the business and finds herself being changed by it. And there’s no bigger challenge coming her way than the one aimed directly at her heart.
Owning SopiX is a lot to take in for Sophia, especially once she realises she can’t just sell the business off - even her fancy home is mortgaged to the hilt. She’s in shock, she’s still grieving, and suddenly she’s the owner-operator of a porn studio that has a donkey wandering around. Nobody could blame her for driving away a little erratically – but when she hits a man and he charmingly brushes it off (he’s even worried for her), he seems a little too good to be true.
Of course, he is: after Sofia leaves he heads into the SofiX offices, ditches his conservative outfit and gets down to some butt-naked (literally) work as international porn sensation Mastroduro (Julio Machado). Not only is Sofia going to have to juggle her role as a porn maven with parenting two teenagers and socialising with her equally morally upstanding friends, but she’s going to have to deal with her growing feelings for a man who has sex on camera for a living.
No wonder they call it Hard.
Hard is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
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