Jill Soloway, known primarily for her work as a writer for Six Feet Under and United States of Tara, has proven that TV is a great jumping off point for creating a film that is razor sharp in the presentation of its characters and the many layers beneath (no stripping pun intended). For Silver Lake stay-at-home mom Rachel (Kathryn Hahn, who doesn't get nearly enough starring roles), life has become decidedly dull. Her sex life with her husband, Jeff (Josh Radnor), an app designer, is nonexistent. She spends most of her time dodging another mom at the school, Jennie (Michaela Watkins), who won't leave her alone about volunteering for the Jewish Community Center. It is a life Rachel has grown to loathe, and one that her therapist, Lenore (Jane Lynch), can seem to offer no solution for.
And so, to feel as different as possible, Rachel takes the advice of her friend, Stephanie (Jessica St. Clair), to go to a strip club with Jeff to spice things up. Stephanie and her husband accompany them to a place called Sam's Hofbrau (a sexless sounding title for a strip club, yes) to ease their transition toward novel eroticism. Somewhat jokingly, Jeff buys Rachel a private lap dance from a stripper named McKenna (Juno Temple). Riveted by McKenna's comfortableness with her sexuality, Rachel can't stop thinking about her days later.
To manufacture a "chance" encounter, Rachel stalks the coffee truck outside of Sam's Hofbrau so that she can run into McKenna. Her fascination with this seemingly carefree 22-year-old (though she previously tells Rachel she's 19 as it's part of her method for turning guys on) stems from Rachel's own feelings of sexual stiflement and insecurity. Part of her sexual frustration (she hasn't boned her husband in six months) is a result of being a victim of her own self-perception. Because she views herself as a mother and a wife, it seems that Rachel is stuck in a mode of thinking she is generally frumpy and unattractive.
After getting to know McKenna over the course of their coffee conversations together, Rachel invites her to stay in her and Jeff's home upon seeing a tow truck taking away all of McKenna's possessions. Determined to help McKenna turn her life around, Rachel offers her a room in exchange for watching over her son, Logan. When Jeff learns what Rachel has done, he is slightly confused by her actions, but stays largely tight-lipped to support Rachel's pet project. Considering nothing and no one has captured Rachel's attention so fully in quite some time, Jeff sees McKenna's presence as an overall positive development.
As McKenna and Rachel grow closer on an emotional level, Rachel can't be bothered to pretend to give a shit about volunteering for activities at her son's school. Instead, she asks McKenna to let her watch her have sex with one of her clients (for, by now, it's been well-established that McKenna is a "full-service sex worker." Even though Rachel feels like she's going to be able to handle watching McKenna give pleasure to one of her regulars (played by John Kapelos, who has seen better days pre-The Breakfast Club), she is taken by surprise by her own disgust and shock over actually seeing what McKenna does for money.
It is at this point in the film that a schism develops between the two women, further pronounced by Rachel telling Jeff she doesn't want McKenna to watch her friends' children for a sleepover party. Wounded by Rachel's sudden judgmental aura, McKenna goes out of her way to prove that she's the whore Rachel now perceives her to be. In this way, Afternoon Delight throws something of a curveball in that, for most of the story, we assumed it was about McKenna and Rachel's relationship. However, what it really comes down to is Rachel's own emotional and sexual reawakening as a result of encountering McKenna. Even though it would have been nice to see the two women remain friends, McKenna and Rachel each served a singular purpose in the other's life, never to be reduplicated through consistent friendship.