Reviews of Movies, TV shows & metro Detroit Restaurants

Short movie & TV show reviews and metro Detroit restaurant reviews

Friday, January 3, 2014

TV Show Review: "Masters of Sex"

After the disastrous final season of Dexter and an uneven Homeland, Showtime really needed something to bolster its original programming. In my opinion, Masters of Sex did just that and has become Showtime's best show.

What is this show about? It's about sex, duh! OK...It's about William Masters (played excellently by Michael Sheen) & Virginia Johnson (also played excellently by Lizzy Caplan) and their ground-breaking study of human sexuality which started in the 1950s. Masters is a gynecologist working at Washington University in St. Louis who wants to study the physical effects of sex on the human body, focusing on the differences between men & women. Johnson becomes his assistant (and eventually participant) in this study. The work they did was truly remarkable, most notably because it was being done during the 1950s when talking about sex was still very taboo.

This show focuses on the study itself quite a bit ("the work" as Masters & Johnson refer to it as) which means there IS a lot of sex (both with & without couples). But that's not ALL that it's about. A lot of it is about relationships...especially between Masters & Johnson, which gets even more complicated when they become participants in the study.

Masters is actually married (Johnson is divorced with 2 young children) and he & his wife Libby (another great acting performance given by Caitlin Fitzgerald) are trying to have a child of their own, so this story is one that provides quite a bit of intrigue. Perhaps the most intriguing relationship is with the university's provost Barton Scully (played by Beau Bridges) & his wife Margaret (played by Allison Janney). This relationship is so fascinating due to Barton's own sexual orientation and the love that this couple shares. Bridges & Janney turn in two of their best acting performances ever as they are quite superb.

Johnson isn't without her own intriguing storylines as the show explores her relationships with her ex-husband George, Masters' protege physician Ethan Haas (played by Nicholas D'Agosto, who also gets a great relationship story line with the Scullys' daughter Vivian played by Rose McIver) and with her kids (Henry played by Cole Sand & Tessa played by Kayla Madison). Johnson's very liberal views toward sex are very important to the storytelling as well.

Character development & relationships are a big part of this show, which is what it does best. The sex is sometimes an afterthought and the study is always at the center of the show, as it well should be. The acting performances are some of the best I've seen with the women really turning in great performances. The women characters are the heart of this show, starting with Johnson. But not ending with Johnson as Margaret & Libby are strong women characters as well as study participant turned secretary Jane (played by Heléne Yorke) who gets some great storylines herself including a very sweet moment in the finale. Even the hooker who runs the whorehouse (Betty played by Annaleigh Ashford) where Masters starts his study is a strong character!

I found this show continued to improve as the season went on and it turned these characters into people the audience truly cared about. I am looking forward to season 2 and I definitely recommend binge-watching on this show prior to the season 2 premiere...8.5/10 stars

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