Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex poster with Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan

If you’re not already, you should be watching Masters of Sex, the second-best new show of the year (after Hannibal). The show follows the scientific research of Bill Masters (Michael Sheen) and his assistant Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) into human sexuality. Set in the fifties, it bears more than a passing resemblance to Mad Men, but it’s a smaller, sexier show. Its focus is intentionally narrower than Mad Men, with a smaller cast, a smaller budget and a tight focus on one topic: sex.

Masters of Sex understands that sex sells – every episode has ample nudity – but it’s more interested in the complexities of sex than any other series. It ponders sex on a grand scale – how do social mores evolve? – and on a intimately personal scale. Its characters are impeccably drawn (with the possible of exception of Dr Ethan Haas, played by Nicholas D’Agosto), thanks to crisp writing and excellent acting. Generally a show takes some time to flesh out its characters to the point that I truly feel for them, but the latest episode of this series had a greater emotional impact on me than any episode of television this year – a testament to the show’s quality. Recommended.

7 thoughts on “Masters of Sex

  1. Also another reason to watch the show – it’s already been confirmed for a second season. No Hannibal-esque anxiety that you might never see more of the series with Masters of Sex!

  2. I’m a big fan of the show, also wrote about it on my blog after watching the first two episodes. From what you write about the last episode, I suppose you’re caught up with the show. I think the past few episodes have had an incredibly emotional punch, but also have felt, to me, a little slower and not as immediately engaging as the first few. Maybe it’s just becuase we’re at the middle of the season and the show will build momentum as it approaches the end? What do you think?

    • I haven’t seen your write-ups yet, I’ll have to go check them out. I agree that the last few episodes have been slower, but I haven’t really had a problem with that as long as I’m invested in the characters; I almost think the early episodes were a little rushed (the plotline with the male hooker, for example, was a bit contrived).

      I’m not making any predictions about where the show’s going – I wouldn’t be surprised to see it pick up, but one of the things that I really like about the show is that unlike a lot of modern prestige drama, there isn’t a sense that the characters are shackled to a season-long storyline. For example, Masters’ baby plotline seemed like it would be the anchor for the first season, but they defied my expectations there. Anytime a show can surprise with me with its structure, I’m on board.

      • Yeah, I’m actually really liking the show. Have you watched last night’s episode? I didn’t like the stuff in Florida, but loved Allison Janney and the final scene made me very excited for what’s to come.

      • I liked the episode too (I think the lack of Haas, a character who needs some clearer writing, helped). I didn’t mind the Florida plotline; even though it was a bit first-season-Betty-Draper, Caitlin Fitzgerald elevated a pretty simple plotline and demonstrated she’s more than just a meek housewife. Plus, an almost unrecognisable Barry Bostwick!

        Allison Janney was really great in the episode. I didn’t even recognise her in episode five because she had so little to do, so good to see her getting to show her acting chops. The plot was maybe a little ..convenient (older, sexually frustrated woman bumps into man investigating maternal love with his therapist) but I bought it anyway.

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