Thursday, October 31, 2013

Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” #105 “Catherine”

Painful Losses
by Catherine Giordano
Rose McIver as Vivian Scully


There are painful losses for so many of the characters on episode #105 of Showtime’s “Masters of Sex.”

The most painful loss in this episode is the loss of Bill and Libby’s baby due to Libby’s miscarriage at 24 weeks. The miscarriage is discovered while Bill and Libby at the 25th wedding anniversary party for the Scullys. Libby gets up from the table to go to the “girls,” and Bill sees that her beautiful peach-colored gown is massively stained with blood.

Bill and Libby are both shattered by this loss, even Bill who was very ambivalent about becoming a father. Bill names the dead baby Catherine. Bill tells Libby they will not try to have a baby again. This is more pain for Libby.

Vivian Scully loses her virginity in this episode. She comes on to Ethan as a worldly woman who can have what we today call casual sex. After the deed is done, Ethan discovers blood on the sheets, and Vivian has to confess to being a virgin. Ethan feels very guilty, but he doesn’t want a relationship with Vivian. But she’s the daughter of the provost of the hospital so Ethan has no choice unless he wants to jeopardize his position at the hospital. So Vivian becomes Ethan’s “girlfriend." This is the "there-is-no-such-thing-as-free-love" moment of the  week.

Vivian may have lost her virginity, but a young married couple, both very religious, have not lost theirs. They come to see Dr. Masters because they have not conceived. Turns out they did not understand that sleeping together involved more than sleeping. Presumably, the doctor had to explain the birds and the bees to them. They were so cute—you might say this scene represented a loss of innocence.

Dr. Langham seems to have lost his ability to perform. The sex study is studying couples again, and Lanham was all set to do his bit for science with the lovely Jane. But Masters feels the study would go better if the partners were strangers to each other so a different girl is sent to be his partner. Langham is so disappointed that he loses his ability to perform. Virginia had warned Masters against this experiment, but he didn’t understand the importance of “attachment” in sex. The next time, Langham is paired with Jane again, but the memory of his prior failure sets him up to fail again. Langham, previously known as the hospital’s Lothario, is in mental anguish, crying out, “Why won’t my dick work?” The study is about physiology, but I think Masters and Johnson are beginning to realize how difficult it is to separate the physical from the emotional.

Virginia is suffering her own loss--the loss of her children’s love. Specifically, the loss of her eight year old son’s love. He’s angry that his mother has to work all the time. To make it up to him and her daughter, she has the baby sitter drop them off at the hospital so they can go out to dinner when she gets off work, but then Libby has her miscarriage and Virginia is needed at the hospital.  Her daughter is “the good one” in the family—she just falls asleep in a chair. The boy leaves the hospital and literally gets lost. Virginia is distraught, but Ethan saves the day. He spies the kid on the street and brings him back. He offers to fill-in as a father figure for the boy, assuring Libby that it is alright because he likes kids. He’s not doing this just to get in Virginia’s pants because, as he tells her, he has a girlfriend now.”

Mrs.Scully has had a lifetime of loss—the loss of a happy sex life with her husband who is secretly gay.  She comes to see Bill—she wants to be a study subject.

If you are not watching this show, you are losing out. The 1950’s was a time of pivotal change in social mores and this show is not missing a beat.


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