The Official Fifty Shades Darker Awkwardness Meter

Should you take a first date? Your longtime partner? We'll tell you.

By Seija Rankin Feb 10, 2017 12:00 PMTags
50 Shades Darker, Fifty Shades DarkerUniversal Studios

It's time to slip into something a little...less awkward. 

Valentine's Day approacheth, and with it approacheth the dire need to plan something sexy and romantic. It's not a coincidence that, for the second time in a row, an installment of the Fifty Shades series hits theaters right as couples new and old are trying to figure out just what the hell their relationship status is. 

Fifty Shades Darker is a continuation of the sordid tale of Christian Grey, the tortured bedroom torturer, and Anastasia Steele, the girl who is supposedly a super smart bookworm yet is seemingly incredibly slow to come to the realization that once a BDSM addict, always a BDSM addict. For those who haven't read the books (bless ye), you'll find the sequel just as entertaining as the original. And just as naked. Huge emphasis on the naked. 

Shop the Screen: Fifty Shades Darker

A brief segue here to explain the plot, as this movie so insists on having one despite the natural urge to just get by on the nakedness. Christian has won Anastasia back after the blowout fight that closed out Fifty Shades of Grey (technically, the film opens with his attempt to win her back, but her resistance is so futile and short-lived that we've already devoted too much time to it), and they set about figuring out how to go from dominant-submissive to boyfriend-girlfriend. 

Their relationship takes the natural progression (and, spoiler alert, although honestly we'd be hard-pressed to find a person who hasn't at least read the novel's Wikipedia page): Boy woos girl with fancy dinners and talk of how he's trying to change, girl decides to give it a shot, boy tries and fails to stifle his God-given affinity for ball gags. Now that everyone is caught up, it's time to get down to business: The awkwardness. 

All sorts of folks will feel drawn to satisfy their innate curiosity over whether Dakota Johnson's butt looks as good as it did in 2014 (it does), but viewers should take heed of just what kind of occasion to honor the movie with. Those watching with their long term boyfriends will have a far different experience than those going with their parents. (Okay, that was a joke, but you know what we mean). As such, we've devised this fool proof awkwardness meter, so that you can weigh the pros and cons of every social encounter. 

Don't say we didn't warn you, HR managers trying to plan a Q1 staff party. 

If you're going with girlfriends...

This is the absolute best environment for seeing Fifty Shades Darker—preferably if it follows a few bottles of wine. You can hoot, you can holler, you can whistle the entire time that Jamie Dornan is doing his pommel horse workout routine. Truly, after drinking your weight in Sauv Blanc, this movie may as well be La La Land or Arrival or whatever your Best Picture nominee of choice is. 

You can reminisce over all the times you've helped each other through breakups, during the opening sequence when Ana reads old notes from Christian as a remix of Coldplay's "The Scientist" hovers in the background. (Nobody said it was's such a shame for us to part). You can plug each other's ears when Ana says things like, "I'm too dressed." And, most importantly, you can keep yourselves honest in the Great Nipple Tally of 2017.

(We counted 10 appearances, but we didn't have a group of girlfriends to monitor our check marks.)

If you're going with bros...

As the old adage goes, everything is more awkward with a bunch of bros. Or something like that. But seriously—there's just something about a whole bunch of dudes sitting in a movie theater together that's a little...foreign? Especially if the movie is Fifty Shades Darker. How are the rest of the patrons to know that they're not just there to take a mental picture of poor, sweet Dakota Johnson's aforementioned 10 nipple flashes? Call it stereotyping, but maybe take your business a few doors over. See Moonlight! See La La Land! Anything but Fifty Shades

That said, if you and your bros do manage to sit through this movie without unzipping your skin, you'll be all the more mature and sensitive for it. Plus, you'll learn all sorts of new vocabulary words, like "kinky f--kery." Bravo. 

If you're on a first date...

Here this out, but we actually think that going to this movie on a first date isn't nearly as awkward as it sounds. For starters, this installment is far lighter on the erotica than the first. It's a whopping 21 minutes of screen time before any nudity at all, and 58 and 61 minutes before the red room and sex toys appear, respectively. That makes for one whole hour of good, wholesome normal people sex. (Normal is relative, mind you.) 

And, taking a stranger to a BDSM-light flick is a great personality litmus test. The key to sitting in a room full of tightly-packed strangers as Jamie Dornan inserts something that can only be described as anal beads for your front into Dakota Johnson is a good sense of humor. You have to be able to laugh as Dakota paints a lipstick map onto Jamie's chest, to designate the "don't touch me here" road map.

If your date sits silently as the words "I don't know whether to worship you or spank you" are uttered on a giant screen, you should run far away and never speak to them again. 

If you're with your serious, long term partner...

Viewing this film with your romantic partner brings up a lot of questions. Questions like does he think my butt should look like that? Or wait, do I think his butt should look like that? Or If my boyfriend doesn't have a pommel horse in his home gym, is that why he looks nothing like Jamie Dornan?

You could start wondering why your sex life is nothing like Ana and Christian's. Why you always finish cooking dinner, instead of abandoning the need to eat meals altogether in exchange for X-rated activities. Why you've never offered to take off your underwear in the middle of a crowded, health department-inspected restaurant. Why you've never introduced gynecological exam-like sex gadgets into your routine. All this time, you could have been saving yourself a trip to the doctor's office and just used at-home stirrups!

You could start wondering why you never buy each other lavish presents. Why have you never bought him a $25,000 week's stay at a lodge in Aspen? Why has he never bought you a promotion? Maybe you should just call it quits because the two of you are obviously an inferior couple in every way. 

If you're past the third date, but before the are we exclusive talk...

Run, don't walk, out of the theater. No good can come out of seeing this movie together. We beg of you, come back another time and see it, preferably with a group of your girlfriends or a person you just met. If your date suggested this outing, maybe never speak to them again. If you suggested this outing, maybe reevaluate your entire outlook on life. 

Just think about it: A not-quite-serious-but-definitely-more-than-causal relationship cannot survive all those up-close nipple shots and gynecology exams. And the spankings! And the elevator soft core porn! Also, the timeline by which Christian and Ana got back together and then subsequently moved in and got engaged is not healthy for regular people to compare themselves to. Even if he did have a Riddick poster in his childhood bedroom, Christina will inevitably come off as far more spontaneous and romantic as however you've been seeing for four-to-six weeks. 

Sure, he's far creepier, too, but nobody's going to remember the inappropriately domineering text messages about the work trip to New York; they're going to remember the handcuffs.