Masters of Sex: Season 1, Episode 1; Pilot

Well, here goes my first review/analysis. I like to write and I love movies/TV so I thought I would give it a try. Now then, I’ve been wanting to watch this show since it came out, but only just recently finally got around to it. I’ve been too consumed with Ray Donovan up until now (maybe I’ll post some reviews for it too). Masters of Sex first debuted on Showtime in September 2013. It is based on the book Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love by Thomas Maier. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) were researchers on human sexuality in the 1960s at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

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The first episode does a very good job of introducing the main characters and the challenges they have to face both personally and professionally. Michael Sheen does a wonderful job playing William Masters. His performance is very subtle and I can’t wait to see each layer slowly revealed. Masters is very unemotional. The first scene, a dinner that honors William, establishes both this and also shows how he is uncomfortable with praise. He does not do his work for attention or accolades. Even though Masters is an expert on fertility and sex he is inept when it comes to women. He reminds me of the stereotypical nerd who is very intelligent in terms of books smarts, but lacks real life, personal experience. Williams’s job is to help couples conceive, so it is pretty funny that he can’t help himself and his wife. Masters is a meticulous man, as shown in the way he slowly undresses and carefully folds his clothing. Details are incredibly important to him. He seems to also lack passion, at least sexually. He is the opposite of Johnson in quite a few ways, but at their cores they end up being very similar.
The differences between Masters and Johnson are evident in the different ways they approach sex. As noted before, William seems to lack sexual passion. He’s not eager to have sex with his wife, Libby, and when he does there is very little foreplay. The act itself seems more like an act of duty or another experiment rather than an act of love or lust. And does he even want a kid? Doesn’t seem like it. And what’s with the two separate beds? Was that a thing in the 50s or are they a weird couple? Do they only have sex when she’s ovulating? Then there’s Virginia and Dr. Hass. Ginny is a sexual woman who isn’t afraid to ask for what she wants and doesn’t just restrict herself to one position like Masters. She gives Haas a blow job pretty soon after they met because they are “friends.” I think she and Haas have very different definitions of friendship. Masters notes Ginny didn’t marry for love during her previous two marriages, so did she marry for lust instead? Or did she confuse the two, like a lot of women do, she points out.
Masters and Johnson are both blunt, straight forward, honest people. Well other than not telling his wife about his low sperm count. But other than that, William is honest and not afraid to express his opinion, even if it is unpopular. And Johnson is assertive quite a few times in getting what she wants. Whether it is sexually or simply just enrolling in school.
The greatest challenge that Masters and Johnson face in their research is the conservative nature of the society they live in. This is shown by the two appalled secretaries as well as the president of the university. Religion is also a contributing factor as the Christian secretary finds their work extremely inappropriate. Personally Masters has to overcome the mental wall he puts up between himself and others whereas Ginny has to overcome the boundaries of society.
What the show has to say about women will be interesting to see develop. Virginia represents the modern woman. A woman that is a mother, a hard worker, and a sexual being. Virginia is challenged quite a few times in this episode. She is told to stay at home and be a mother. The president refuses to talk to her because she is just a “secretary.” And Haas slaps her and calls her a “whore” because she had sex with him without loving him. Will she be able to overcome all these obstacles? Masters’s wife, Libby, represents the woman of the past, the 1950s homemaker who stays at home and does anything to help make her husband’s life easier. She makes him dinner every night and is supportive of his work. Because Libby has still not been able to conceive a child she is a failure, both in the eyes of herself and society. Will the show challenge this notion and try to make Libby more than just a caricature? I don’t know right now, all I know is that I can’t help finding her extremely irritating. I kind of feel sorry for her, but then she acts so weak and pathetic. She’s a good foil to Virginia as she makes Ginny look stronger and more appealing to both the viewer and Masters. There are two love triangles on the show and it’ll be interesting to see how they get resolved. There is Masters, Virgina, and Libby; then there is Masters, Virginia, and Haas. Maybe Haas will try getting with Libby in the future?

Episode 101
Masters of Sex is an excellent, quite interesting show. Masters wants to answer the question “What happens to the body during sex?” But the show goes deeper than this. It brings up questions about the relationships between people, what attracts people to one another, and are men and women really all that different.
Tidbits:
• Why is the wife on these shows always so annoying? No wonder Masters doesn’t like Libby very much. And what’s with the creepy way she calls him “Daddy?” Barf.
• Betty the prostitute is pretty hilarious. I love how she sees through Masters. She’s a good sidekick and even better comic relief.
• The super eager secretary volunteer was also funny. She’s like the Energizer bunny or something.
• Ulysses in the president’s face – hahahaha.

The president faces off with Ulysses.
The president faces off with Ulysses.

• Masters: “I picked you for this job.” Johnson : “If that’s what you want to tell yourself.”
• “This whole thing feels like Christmas or something.”
• That last ‘we should have sex’ bit. Umm, isn’t that highly unprofessional???

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