Monday, November 18, 2013

Showtime’s Masters of Sex #108 “Love and Marriage”

Two to Tango
By Catherine Giordano

It takes two to tango as the characters dance around their relationships in episode #108 of Showtime's Masters of Sex, titled “Love and Marriage,” which aired on 11/17/13. This review and recap is all about love and marriage and the sexiest of all dances, the tango.

The tangled affair between Margaret Scully and Austin Landsman ended (as I predicted it would.)  Margaret goes to a hotel bar to have a drink or two to ease the pain and strikes up a conversation with a young man sitting at the bar—her husband’s young man.  

When Barton arrives at the scene, he tries to pass off the young man as a graduate student meeting to discuss his future, but Margaret isn’t fooled by this song and dance routine. Barton changes his story—he says the young man procures women (prostitutes) for him. And Barton accuses Margaret of being at the hotel to meet her lover. Margaret allows him to think so and then goes off on a long rant giving the young man advice on marriage--or rather, the reasons not to marry.

Poor Margaret doesn’t have a clue. She never suspects homosexuality, even as she asks for a divorce. Margaret brushes aside Barton’s entreaties and professions of love—she refuses to remain in a sexless marriage.

A few days later, Barton meets with his young man, and tells him he has obtained some nausea inducing pills. Barton wants to try aversion therapy so he can be a proper husband to his wife. Barton’s lover indignantly refuses to have any part of this scheme at any price. Barton insists there is nothing between them but a business relationship.  This denial of what the relationship has become hurts the young man’s feelings. Before he storms out, he delivers a lecture about self-loathing and proclaims that the only one who will be allowed to be nauseated by his behavior is he, himself.     

Vivian, dances around Ethan’s kitchen, making breakfast and singing the popular song of the time “Love and Marriage” --the one that says that the two go together like a horse and carriage. (One small question: How does Vivian manage to sleep-over so often at Ethan’s house? Pre-marital sex would surely not have been acceptable to her parents, not in the 1950’s.)

Evidently, overhearing Vivian singing this song gets Ethan thinking that he wants to marry her. He discusses it with Austin, enumerating the reasons for marriage. “I’m pushing 30, I’ve sowed my wild oats, married men live longer, there are great tax benefits, it is good to have a wife who will always be there for you.” No mention of love. It sounds like someone is working a little too hard to convince himself to get married.

Ethan plans a fancy proposal dinner, but when he invites her to the restaurant, she guesses his purpose and does a happy dance right there in the hospital cafeteria. She gets him to show her the ring right then and there and gushingly says, “Yes I will marry you” before Ethan even gets to propose.

Austin had tried to dissuade Ethan from proposing. Austin is clearly not happy with his marriage. His wife is pretty and seems to be the embodiment of a loving and devoted wife, but he would rather philander. He has a tryst with jewelry store salesgirl whom he met when accompanied Ethan who was buying an engagement ring. Landsman is now confident that he is back to his old self and wants back into the study.

Libby is lonesome at home alone all day. One day she calls a handyman to clean the gutters. She is startled at first to see that the handyman is a young good looking black man. When he is done with the gutters, they talk for a while, and Libby learns that the young man is a widower. He and his wife used to be champion dancers.  Libby begs him to give her dance lessons, saying it is just the same as any other odd job.  I don't think so. The tango can be danced chastely OR it can be danced well--never both, the tango is a dance that is all about sex.

One day while dancing with her handyman/dance instructor, Libby passes out during a dip. The handyman brings her to the emergency room. The doctor tells her that she is fine--she just has a momentary problem with blood pressure. “It is common among pregnant women,” he tells her. And that is how Libby finds out that she is three months pregnant. The doctor tells her that “her boy” can bring the car around to take her home. There is a moment of embarrassment, and then Libby explains that he is her handyman.  

Do they now both realize how inappropriate it was for her to be taking dance lessons in her home alone with a man, especially a black man. (This was the 1950's, after all.) This is the “Libby-if-you-want-to-learn-to-dance-go-to-the-Fred-Astaire-Dance-Studio”moment of the week.

Masters and Johnson dance around what they are dong in the lab at night as “work.” As in, “I’m available to do our work tonight.”  Except they have not been getting much of their pas-de-deux work done. Virginia is taking classes at night to try to get “credentials” so she will be respected as a researcher and not just as a glorified secretary. Also, the two have a new project keeping them busy.  They have rigged up a camera to their glass dildo so they can see what goes on in the vagina during orgasm.

It takes two to tango; each week Masters of Sex is showing us that it takes two things-- love and sex--to
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make a relationship.

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