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Hey! Was that Chrissy from 'Growing Pains'? What We Learned From This Week's 'Masters of Sex'

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | December 2, 2013 | Comments ()


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It’s the 10th episode (of 12) on the first season of Showtime’s Masters of Sex, which means that it’s time for everything to fall apart (before the writers put it back together again in the finale), and they took an appropriate angle with which to steer the narrative descent: The end of the world (this show has been really good at thematically tying all of their subplots together).

It’s the late 50s, during the Cold War, so the action in “Fallout,” mostly takes place in the midst of an elaborate atomic bomb drill, because we were all under the weird misconception that, if we hid under our desks, we could somehow avoid nuclear fallout (this misconception would last the entirety of the Cold War). During all of this, couples came together and fell apart, but mostly fell apart.

Ginny and Ethan — This relationship really doesn’t make any sense, to be honest. Ethan broke up with his fiance, and Masters treated Ginny like sh*t, so Ginny jumped into a sexual relationship with someone she had already rejected. Mere weeks into their relationship and Ethan is already laying it on thick, and there’s already a sense that Ginny — smart, independent, strong-willed Ginny — will come to her senses soon and reject Ethan’s clinginess. For now, however, it seems like a necessary contrivance to keep all the characters in the same orbit.

Ethan and Dr. Masters — It also allows Ethan someone to confide in after Bill essentially fired Ethan from the hospital, not because he’s sleeping with Ginny, it turns out, but because Bill figured out how his wife conceived. Masters was pissed, even going so far as to sucker punch Ethan. To be honest, they both have good points: Ethan shouldn’t have been impregnating Bill’s wife with Bill’s frozen semen without Bill’s permission. On the other hand, Ethan was looking out for Libby, who deserved to be looked out for, since Bill certainly isn’t doing any looking out. I like Ethan, I do: But I think the termination should probably stick. I’m not sure his character will have an appropriate place in the story come next season, and I hate it when shows keep characters around who have exhausted their purpose. (On a side note, excuse my ignorance, but if Bill is shooting blanks, how is it that Ethan can increase the odds of pregnancy by using the same blank-laden semen to impregnate Libby? It seems like the fact that it was frozen would actually reduce the odds).

Margaret and Dr. Langham — Meanwhile, Margaret — after a conversation with a prostitute about the tricks of the trade (GET IT, TRICKS? *groan*) — also figured out why her husband wasn’t interested in her sexually, and I suppose that, in the 50s, women might not have quickly come to a realization that would otherwise seem obvious today. It’s hard to get a good beat on how this is making her feel: She suggested that it was the end of her world, but she also has to feel some sense of relief, in that it really wasn’t her fault that the Provost wasn’t attracted to her. I do hope that she will at least attempt to look at the situation from the Provost’s perspective. In either respect, while Margaret was feeling down about her husband’s sexual orientation, Langham was feeling bummed about the fact that he inadvertently impregnated a woman in the sex study, and guilty for not taking responsibility.

Related: The Provost was super pissed with Ethan for dumping his daughter, but the Provost should know better than to suggest that a guy should follow through on a marriage to someone he doesn’t love.

Masters and Johnson — The reason why Langham was feeling bummed was because Ginny — in one of her few dumb decisions — informed Austin about the fact that he’d impregnated another study subject. It was right of Ginny to try and take some responsibility on behalf of the study, but she should not have involved Langham. Masters was right to take umbrage, but as ever, he displayed absolutely no tact. He really is one of television’s most insensitive pricks.

That is not, however, why Ginny decided to quit. She quit because she finally (finally) came to the realization that Masters had feelings for her, and that the sex study was an excuse for Masters to have an affair with her. For such a smart woman, it certainly took Ginny a long time to arrive at the obvious.

Johnson and Dr. DePaul — Masters’ loss, however, is Dr. DePaul’s gain. Ginny walked from Masters’ office and right into DePaul’s, presumptuously assuming that Dr. DePaul would take her in as her secretary because DePaul doesn’t have an affinity for schmooze, which means she needs Ginny to get her cervical cancer trial going at the hospital. Ginny was right to presume.

Oh, and if it was nagging at you that you recognized Flora (the sex study subject was Austin impregnated), but you couldn’t place it (just like you couldn’t place it when you saw her in The Avengers) that was Ashley Johnson, who played Chrissy in Growing Pains.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • perky

    I liked her best as Meltdown Gibson's daughter in What Women Want.

  • e jerry powell

    Since Ashley Johnson ages quickly anyway...

  • e jerry powell

    (On a side note, excuse my ignorance, but if Bill is shooting blanks, how is it that Ethan can increase the odds of pregnancy by using the same blank-laden semen to impregnate Libby? It seems like the fact that it was frozen would actually reduce the odds).

    You don't need me to say it, but you're not wrong. Maybe Ethan took a whole bunch out of the freezer and got lucky by law of averages.

  • Three_nineteen

    Masters is infertile, but even infertile men usually have some viable sperm, just a lot less than normal. IIRC, the capping process directs the sperm toward the egg. So, instead of the semen spraying all over the uterus, all of it is pointed directly at where the egg is, increasing the chances that a couple of viable sperm actually find the egg. That's why the woman can't move during the capping process, because if she does it will move the cap and the sperm won't find the egg.

  • Cree83

    I was thinking that if the sperm had low motility it might have better chances if it was inserted further up, so it doesn't have to swim as far. That was my totally scientificy conclusion.

  • e jerry powell

    That would also seem logical. IVF has a long and strange history of vastly variant methods. Rock and Mencken were experimenting in different techniques for IVF in 1944 mostly without success until they allowed sperm and ova to stay in contact with each other for a more reasonable amount of time. Rock and Mencken never did actually implant a fertilized egg into a woman, though.

    I guess St. Louis was still trying things the hard way, since they weren't extracting ova and fertilizing in the petri dishes. Somehow I think that trying for more control in a laboratory environment would yield better results, but I'm ultimately a control freak myself.

  • Uriah_Creep

    we were all under the weird misconception that, if we hid under our desks, we could somehow avoid nuclear fallout

    In all fairness, that nonsense was at least as intelligent as what Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull would have you believe. Nuking the fucking fridge indeed.

  • Cami

    She's Ellie! From The Last of Us!

  • Thanks for the name so I could IMDb her; that face was killing my faltering memory. I remember Ashley Johnson from What Women Want. Which means, unfortunately, that I remember What Women Want.

  • John W

    Boy Ashley Johnson has hardly changed.

    Is it that Masters is sterile or that his sperm has low motility? Or is that the same thing?

    I enjoyed watching Dr. Depaul trying to engage in small talk. I'm glad she and Virginia are starting to get along.

  • I remember Ashley Johnson from my nerdsexy dreams*...oh, and The Middleman. And Recess.

  • NoPantsMcLane

    I remember Ashley Johnson from the Van Damme classic Lionheart.
    "You got heart, Lionheart!"

  • I remember thinking the same thing toward the end of The Avengers. Hey! Captain America just saved Chrissy from Growing Pains! And she's an NYC waitress now! Good for her?

  • Joe Grunenwald

    She seems to be a Whedon favorite. She was in a couple of episodes of Dollhouse as well. Good for her indeed.

  • PDamian

    And judging from the pink dress and white apron under her overcoat in Masters of Sex, now she's a St Louis waitress!

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