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Does Penis Size Matter? What We Learned From This Week's 'Masters of Sex'

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | December 9, 2013 | Comments ()


Masters-of-Sex-Style.jpg

The through-line for last night’s episode of Masters of Sex, “Phallic Victories,” was penis size, and once again, the show brilliantly played that into every subplot: With Masters rushing a penis-size component into his sex study, with Ethan and Ginny’s ex-husband engaging in a dick-measuring competition, and with Ginny accusing Lillian of having penis envy. And although it was another fine episode, complete with strong performances (especially that of Julianne Nicholson), there’s been something off during these last few episodes, which has kept Masters of Sex from being as exciting (or titillating) as earlier episodes (I often find myself missing the prostitutes from earlier episodes, and the sense of fun they brought to the series).

Last night’s episode was decidedly less fun than earlier in the season, as Dr. Masters aimed to present his study in a way certain to attract interest from fellow doctors (and funding). Despite a tiny sample size of 12, and the the critical voice of Ginny in his head, Masters moved ahead with his research into penis size and its relationship with orgasms. Masters is determined to prove that size does not matter, which has less to do with the study, it turns out, than in his own desire for it to be true. Why? I guess because — despite the multiple orgasms that Masters was able to provide for Ginny over the course of their participation in the sex study — he feels that his dick doesn’t measure up to Dr. Haas’, which is why his deluded mind believes that Ginny chose Ethan over him (Masters apparently cannot fathom the notion that Ginny didn’t choose him because he’s her boss, he’s married, and he’s a huge prick, in the figurative sense).

With Ginny working for Dr. DePaul, pregnant Libby decided to temporarily take over Ginny’s secretarial duties, and the second that Masters agreed, I think we all had the sense that it was only a matter of time before she finds out that Masters and Ginny were participating in the sex study together. For the time being, however, Libby is having only fanciful romantic ideas about the two anonymous participants who had sex with each other 23 times. “Did they fall in love?” she asks Masters. “I don’t know, that questions falls outside of our inquiry.” Masters! What a romantic!

Meanwhile, Ginny and Lillian took a 17-hour trip to a conference in order to raise funds for Dr. DePaul’s pap-smear clinic, and although they missed the conference, they did manage to squeeze some money out of a group of doctors’ wives. During the trip, Lillian and Ginny also found some time to bond, and by bond, I mean: Lillian told Ginny that she has cervical cancer and that it’s terminal, and she insinuated to Ginny that she’d like her to take over the project after Lillian dies.

That should present another in a variety of options Ginny has in front of her, and poor Ethan doesn’t realize that he’s likely not going to be one of them. While Ginny was away, Ethan took care of the kids, although he ran into some difficulty when Ginny’s ex-husband, George, showed up, determined not to let Ethan take over his title. “You can have the title,” Ethan told George. “I just want the job.” (Nice line) In the end, however, the two worked their issues out, and came to an understanding, although that understanding presumed that Ginny would marry Ethan, something that both Ethan and George wrongly believe is inevitable.

That leaves open a lot of questions going into next week’s season finale: Will Masters get funding to continue his study? (Yes) Will Ginny Ginny accept Lillian’s offer to take over her study? (No) Will Ginny agree to marry Ethan, and let him allow her the life she wants? (No) Will Libby find out about Masters and Johnson? (Maybe) Will Jane and the dildo camera director hook up? (Yes) Most importantly, because it’s really been the season’s most compelling plotine, is whether Margaret will confront the Provost about his sexuality? (Yes) The answers may seem obvious, but it’ll be interesting to see how they arrive at them.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • e jerry powell

    So Ethan doesn't get the girl, but at least he'll get Lillian's study.

  • e jerry powell

    I love Ginny when she rocks the opera gloves.

  • John W

    If anyone else is a fan of Julianne Nicholson, like me, she's going to be on a new show next year called Red Road, on the Sundance Channel.

    Here is the synopsis: "THE RED ROAD is a hard-hitting drama that revolves around a local cop struggling to keep his family together while policing two clashing communities: the small town where he grew up and the neighboring
    mountains, home of a Native American tribe. After a terrible tragedy
    and coverup occurs involving the cop’s wife an unholy alliance is forged
    between the cop and an ex-con, a dangerous member of the tribe that
    will come back to haunt all involved."

  • Sounds like the synopsis of Longmire

  • John W

    You're killing me with that picture.

  • Maddy

    I liked this episode mostly because we got to see who Ginny is outside of her relationship with the men in her life - her scenes with Lillian were my favourite (and actually heartbreaking). And apparently that's actually Lizzy Caplan singing at the end, which makes me love her even more.

  • e jerry powell

    I believe another critic brought up the Bechdel test for this episode.

  • Abby Cadabby

    I find your weekly recaps kinda skewed in their interpretation of Masters (rightfully so because of what he's putting his wife through). I don't think he "literally" thinks Ginny didn't stay with him over penis size. He's rattled because this is a man who does not let himself feel, and yet he has fallen for Ginny. He's torn up about the fact that she seemingly didn't feel anything for him while he valued her so highly.

    His guilt prevents him from trying to bring her back or even denying her accusation that their participation was just an affair. It's brilliant that this show is making me root for them to be reunited despite the fact that Masters still doesn't deserve Johnson, but they are much more the "team" Haas is desperate to be with Ginny. I'm anticipating a lot of satisfying apologizing and begging, because he's clearly lost without her.

    Also, I don't miss the prostitutes. Maybe my head IS too in the show, but they really were just distracting and inappropriate for the study. The episode was likely less fun because it lacked any sex study.

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