Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Masters of Sex #302 07 19 15 “Three’s a Crowd”

Master's of Sex Book Launch party
Virginia and Bill at the book launch party.
Bad Things Come in Threes
by Catherine Giordano

A friend of mine said that she stops watching a series after the second season because the writers usually only have enough good stories for two seasons. I think she is on to something. The first two episodes of season three of “Masters of Sex” have been disappointing. With episode 302, “Three’s a Crowd,” I’m beginning to see a trend.  

The problem may be that there has been too much focus on just our triad-Bill, Virginia, and Libby. The writers need to bring the stories of the other characters back to the foreground. Bill is cold, Virginia is defiant, and Libby is mopey. Ho-hum.
The Pregnancy
The plot has pretty much jumped the shark. Virginia is pregnant. It turns out that Bill is not the father. The father is Virginia’s ex-husband, George. At first I thought that George being the father was the cover story. No, George really is the father. It seems George and Virginia were so distraught over their son’s getting hit by a car and his decision to join the military that they had sex with each other. They had sex in that over-crowded house at the lake.  

Nothing in the plot line prior to this set us up for Virginia and George to have sex. There was no thawing in their relationship. Bill and Virginia were not fighting any more than usual. The writers just threw us a plot twist. I imagine them sitting around the room saying:  
“Hey,.How about if we make Virginia get pregnant?”
“Good one. And let’s make it be by her ex-husband.” 
“Well, we got nothing else, so why not?”

 Virginia tells Bill she has an abortion all arranged. She had been putting it off until after the press conference for the book. Is that believable?  Maybe, a little. But now we get to the totally unbelievable part. 

Virginia shows up for her appointment. She gets on the operating table. The doctor gives her the local anesthetic and asks her if she can feel anything.  She says, “I feel nothing.” End of scene. 

Next thing we know, we see Virginia still pregnant. She apparently on the spur of the moment, decided to just hop off that table and have the baby. Nothing before this showed us that she had the least bit of doubt about the abortion. She’s not married, she has a book tour to do, her 16 year old daughter, Tessa, is proving to be more than she can handle—it’s just a great time to have a baby.  
The Solution
The solution?  Virginia will marry her ex-husband. Virginia doesn’t like the idea very much. George wants to marry Virginia because he thinks they can have what they had when they were first married again, but he doesn’t want a sham marriage. Bill offers to write him a very big check.  

A short time later. the happy couple meet with a lawyer one morning to sign the pre-nup. There will be no co-habitation, no sexual relations, and no sharing of assets. The same afternoon, they go to the justice of the peace, and with Bill and Libby as witnesses, they get married. Libby is all smiles—she thinks this marriage may put an end to the affair that Bill is having with Virginia.  

The Speech
So far the plot twists are pretty bizarre, but things get worse. Virginia goes into labor and she can’t handle it. She falls apart emotionally—very out of character for her. Bill is at her side trying to talk her through it. He tells her, at great length, how she is part of a new chapter for women. Women can have both careers and children. Virginia will lead the way. Just as the two of them have broken down the barriers to sexual equality for men and women, they will now break down the barriers to equality in the home and the workplace.  

It is true that Bill and Virginia (along with the birth control pill) are ushering in a new era of equality for men and women. It is also true that the conversation between Bill and Virginia is totally unrealistic. One of the great things about Masters of Sex is that show reflects societal issues of the time. Usually, this is done indirectly-- the plot shows us these things, no one speechifies about it.  In this episode, Bill gave a 20 minute speech about it as Virginia dealt with her labor pains. This is more than unrealistic; it is boring and painful.  I was feeling desperate for the scene to be over, but it went on and on.
The Triads

Human Sexual Response book
to look inside
The rest of the episode showed both Bill and Virginia being difficult. Bill has hired, Dr. West, a female doctor to fill in for Virginia until after Virginia gives birth. He needed to have a female partner so he “won’t look like a pervert.” Dr. West talks directly to a patient, and this angers Bill. Despite the speech he will later give to Virginia about gender equality, he will not have a  woman being equal to him in his practice. She is there to assist and to be seen but not heard. 

This scene reminded me of the developments the previous episode. Virginia wants some time off to complete her studies and obtain her degree. Bill is angry because he needs Virginia to assist him as the book is edited and prepared for publication. Virginia is strong–willed and gets her way much to the good doctor’s chagrin. 

So third time is a charm? I hope so. I hope the show gets back on track for episode 3. While we wait we can contemplate the triads. Bill, Libby, and Virginia. Virginia, George, and the new baby. Bill, George, and Virginia. Maybe even Virginia, Tessa, and the new baby. Will there be sibling rivalry?

Masters of Sex Book
to look inside

Showtime's Masters of Sex Season One dvd
to buy DVD

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Masters of Sex #301 07 12 15 “'Parliament of Owls”

Masaters of Sex
One Big Happy Family

by Catherine Giordano

Season 3 picks up four years later after the end of Season 2 and nothing has changed and everything has changed. I call this review “One Big Happy Family” with more than a little sarcasm. 

Spoiler Alert: The recap and review of the Season 3 premiere of Masters of Sex which aired on July 12, 2015 discusses key plot points.  

The Book

Human Sexual Response book
to look inside
Human Sexual Response is about to be published. The episode begins with Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson holding a press conference. There is a lot of hostility in the room. For the most part, the reporters are scandalized even though the book is a very dry read of medical terminology and statistics. Masters and Johnson did everything they could to keep the book from being salacious.
The hostility is not just between Masters and Johnson and the reporters but also between Dr. Masters and Mrs.Johnson. Masters is the senior partner in this enterprise, but Johnson fights for equal billing. She makes sure that she takes half of the talking time, often jumping in with her answers before Masters can speak. When she is not doing that, she is adding to what he has said as it he had forgotten to mention some important points.

Their professional and private relationship resembles that of a contentious marriage; they have a strong bond to each other, but they fight for dominance in the relationship.

The Home Front
The Masters (Bill and his wife Libby and their two kids) and the Johnsons (Virginia and her two kids) are taking a vacation together at a lake house. It is apparently something they do every year. The action of the episode jumps back and forth between that summer vacation and the press conference. 

They may be on vacation but all Bill wants to do is work on the galley proofs of the book. The last thing he wants to do is be with his wife and kids He holes-up in one of the bedrooms all day, and at night he goes outside to sleep in a lawn chair. The room he is using as his office is the bedroom of Tessa, Virginia’s daughter, so he can’t sleep there. He won’t sleep with his wife, and so he ends up sleeping outside in a lawn chair. How hurt must Libby feel that he’d rather sleep outside and get eaten alive by mosquitoes that sleep in the same bed, or even room, with her? 

Libby has made her peace with it. She knows what is going on between Bill and Virginia, but it is something she never speaks of. Libby is very depressed (clinically depressed) and Virginia is probably her best, and only, friend. 

It is very much a ménage a trios although there are only two people in the same bed at one time. Libby comes into Virginia’s room to talk and gets into bed with her. It’s very chaste; she stays on her side of the double bed. She speaks cryptically, but Virginia knows what she is talking about. Libby talks about how important it is to her to keep her sham marriage intact. For the sake of the children. 

Then Libby leans over and kisses Virginia on the lips. Her husband won’t kiss her, so the next best thing is to kiss the lips that kiss her husband’s lips. Libby leaves the bed immediately after. In a way, it is a dominance play on Libby’s part.   
The Kids are Alright
No, the kids are NOT alright.

Virginia’s two sweet children, Tessa and Henry, are now 15 and 17 years old. They are rebellious and getting involved sexually. Virginia blames their bad behavior on their father who won custody of the children at the end of Season 2.  

Henry has is having sex with a local young woman, a single mother. He previously had an intellectual bent, but now he does not want to continue his schooling and he won’t keep a job. He has gone behind his parent’s back to meet with a military recruiter.  

Henry gets hit by a car, no serious damage is done, but he has to visit the emergency room and Virginia’s ex-husband is called. He comes out to the lake house  and the family is now bigger, if not happier. At the end of the episode, Henry’s parents have agreed to let him join the military, mainly because they can’t stop him. He will be 18 in a few months. 

Tessa has been having her own sexual experimentation. Virginia wants Bill to talk to her about boys and sex because the girl won’t listen to her. Besides, Bill is a gynecologist and knows about these things. (Virginia knows a thing or two herself, but she is backing away from her responsibility.) Bill wants no part of Tessa’s sex education. 

Unfortunately, Tessa forces him to get involved. She gets drunk and disrobes and kisses Bill. Perhaps this is her dominance play against her mother, trying to have sex with her mother’s lover. Bill recoils, but not before Bill’s young son sees the kiss. 

Bill is cold to his children and the children don’t like it. The kiss is the breaking point for Bill’s 8 year old son, Johnny. “You won’t kiss Mommy, but you kiss her, he screams. The boy grabs the galley proofs and runs out of the house with them. They are what his father loves more than him. He throws the papers into the lake.   

Bill, his face contorted with rage, raises his fist to his child. He catches himself before punching him. He is struck with the realization that he is treating his son the way his father treated him. He just walks away.  

I think we will see more problems with these kids in the future. Plus, another big shocker. There may be more kids coming to this family. Virginia is pregnant. 

At the end of the episode, the credits inform the viewers that these are fictional children. That is good because these kids are messed up.

Stay Tuned
One big happy family

It is a family of sorts. But happy has nothing to do with it.

Masters of Sex Book
to look inside

Showtime's Masters of Sex Season One dvd
to buy DVD