The marketplace always has left room for junk art.

Whether it’s the B movie, pulp fiction or velvet Elvis paintings, we’ve maintained a soft spot for kitsch culture, for works that speak to us on a visceral level, no matter their quality. The Internet and social media has upped the ante, elevating otherwise awful works of art into the mainstream.

The Room. Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”

So it’s no wonder that “My Dad Wrote A Porno” became a hit podcast, with more than 160 million downloads, a world tour, and now an HBO special, which premiered last weekend.


I can see how How Did This Get Made? could become popular. Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas are funny in their own right, and discussing movies millions of us have seen, either as guilty pleasures or just guilty of making bad financial and time-management decisions.

My Dad Wrote A Porno pulls off a bigger trick. Jamie Morton reads his father’s erotic novels to his pals James Cooper and Alice Levine and gets us all to care about “Rocky Flintstone,” his mangling of prose, and the exploits of his protagonist, Belinda.

“He has zero concept of the female body,” says Levine in the HBO special’s introduction. “Honestly, if I wasn’t sat here right now, I would swear to God he was a virgin.”

Just take this passage, for example:

Over the past few years, Morton has read a chapter at a time to his friends while they mock and drink over just how horrible it all is. They’ve cultivated a celebrity following, starting with Elijah Wood, who helped expose “Belinda Blinked” to an even wider audience. They’ve had fun getting actors such as Thomas Middleditch, Rachel Bloom, Hayley Atwell and Nicholas Hoult (all heard in voiceover on the HBO special) debating which characters they might play in a Belinda Blinked movie.

And for HBO, they read a chapter that even Morton’s father didn’t think was up to par with his other works, and so he kept it out of any of his four novels (he’s still writing more, since the podcast proved so popular).

But what if you watch this HBO special without knowing about the books or the podcast before? Will you be out of the loop, wondering why the live audience is having so much fun?

No.

Although only Levine of the trio had much previous on-camera experience as a presenter in the UK, Morton and Cooper know how to make TV you want to watch (they both had worked as producers on the BBC’s version of The Apprentice and ITV’s The X Factor with Simon Cowell). This may be the “lost chapter” they share with HBO, but they’ve had plenty of practice sharing it with live audiences on their tours.

And with a live audience, they can engage them with drinking games, audience polls, and staged (but fully clothed) re-enactments. Levine also puts on a lab coat at one point to walk us through a graphic depicting female reproductive organs.

In case your knowledge of a woman’s body is as in doubt as Morton’s fathers most assuredly is.

Which, given recent political moves by Republican legislatures across the U.S. South, means this special should be required viewing for more people than we thought.

Watch My Dad Wrote A Porno on HBO