Men Are Awful Human Beings: What We Learned From This Week's 'Masters of Sex'
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Men Are Awful Human Beings: What We Learned From This Week's 'Masters of Sex'

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | October 21, 2013 | Comments ()

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The Art of Orally Making Sweet Love to the VaginaMasters of Sex introduced two new characters last night (and makes one wonder what happened to Mae Whitman and Julianne Nicholson, who had brief scenes last week but were nowhere to be seen in last night’s episode). The first was George, Virginia’s ex-husband (and the father of her kids). He’s a layabout: An irresponsible, no-good f*ck-up, and he was the most likable male character in the episode. Virginia has insane sexual chemistry with her ex, and the two have casual sex, which seems like it’s a regular thing between the two. Unfortunately, George can’t keep his sh*t together, is close to being evicted from his place, and ends up joining the Masters and Johnson sex study for a few extra bucks, much to the dismay of Virginia, who doesn’t immediately let on to Bill that George is her ex-husband. ”

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Men Are Terrible: Part I — I dig how the show is thematically weaving in an obstetrics case each week. and this week, it concerned a woman who wanted to have her tubes tied without the knowledge of her husband, because she didn’t want anymore kids with him. He’s an abusive asshole (a common refrain in last night’s episode), and the wife knew that she wanted to leave him someday, but also knew that the more kids she had, the less possible it would be to leave him. Also, the more kids she had, the more victims she was creating for her husband. Masters surreptitiously gave her a tubal ligation after delivering her baby, because Masters understands …

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Men Are Terrible: Part II — Bill’s mother came for a visit, four months ahead of Libby’s due date. Mom wants to move to St. Louis to be closer to Bill and Libby, and it seems that, since the death of Bill’s father, Mom has gained some independence. This, it turns out, is upsetting to Bill, because Bill is wondering, “Why the f**k didn’t you gain some goddamn independence when your husband was beating the sh*t out of me?” Bill’s Dad was not a good man, which helps to explain why Bill is terrible to children, and pretty goddamn terrible to his wife, too. You get the feeling that he wants to be a better person, but both nature and nurture have twisted him into a stoic, temperamental douchebag, who doesn’t deserve the wife he has. Ultimately, we understand why Bill is an asshole, and we have some sympathy for it, but he’s still an asshole.

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Aside: I often like to remind myself that the same actor who plays Bill Masters was also in Underworld, because Michael Sheen is awesome.


Men Are Terrible: Part III — Oh, Ethan, Ethan, Ethan. Sober Dr. Haas is infinitely charming in a puppy dog kind of way. He’s a harmless lady’s man, cute, and heartbroken, desperate either to make it work with Virginia or somehow find someone that will fill the void left in his broken soul. But drunk Dr. Haas? He’s horrible: Abusive, jealous, and sh*tty, and we saw both sides of Dr. Haas last night. He came on to Virginia at Bill’s dinner party, and when she rebuffed his advances, he ended up licking scotch off of the breasts of the provost’s daughter, only to apologize for his behavior the next morning. At least he recognizes what a belligerent drunk he is, but it doesn’t excuse the behavior, and until he sobers up, Ethan can never be trusted. I want to like this character, but the sexist asshole side of him makes it impossible.

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Don’t Look at Me While You’re Pleasuring Yourself, Damnit — I’m really not very comfortable with the dynamic right now between Masters and Johnson. Virginia came clean to Bill about her ex-husband, and what does Bill do? Instead of getting angry, per the usual, he dismisses it, and then tracks down Virginia’s ex-husband and interrogates him about their sex life. He does this after clearly betraying some jealousy to Libby over Libby’s attempt to set Dr. Haas and Virginia up. It’s all just very creepy, and more and more suggests that the sex study is less about science and more about Bill’s desire to be a better lover, particularly to Virginia, who has zero interest in Bill.

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“Disappointment and regret, that’s where women live,” Bill’s mother tells Libby. “But men, they run from it … toward the best distraction there is: Pleasure.”

That’s a fairly concise summation of last night’s episode, too: 1950’s men — at least the ones depicted here — are one dimensional: Controlled by ego, sex, and power, while it’s up to the woman to provide the depth and humanity. To put it another way: Girls rule, boys drool.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Green Lantern

    I was trying to figure out why I haven't been watching this yet...and the answer is "I'm still getting caught up from the DVR", but I REALLY need to start watching this shiz.

  • stonecross

    what´s with the black squares over nipples pajiba?

  • Green Lantern



  • Jay

    If the common theme of the "Masters of Sex" is that a man somehow antagonizes women, then I won't be watching it.

  • kali yuga

    Why do we feel compelled to put black bars over nipples. If you think about it, it's a really fucked up behavior.

  • Haystacks

    I can't really watch much of accurate period pieces. It is too hard. We romanticize the "greatest generation", but the fact is abuse and alcoholism were both rampant and deeply closeted, allowing them to fester out of control.

    Too many people who were born during "the great binge", or from immigrants coming to America with PTSD. I honestly find it difficult to watch this or Mad Med without an anxiety attack.

  • Maddy

    Am I the only one getting the feeling that Ethan and Libby slept together and that's why she's pregnant? I'm not sure if this is hinted at or is just a product of my crackpot imaginings

  • autw

    I don't think that they slept together, but that he used HIS sperm instead of Master's in the cervical cap. He did say that he singlehandedly got Libby pregnant. (if you get the double meaning)

  • Guest

    No, I think it's been hinted at. But as I thought last week, the time between her finding out about Masters' impotence and her becoming pregnant was really short, so I doubt they slept together. The other scenario would be that he inseminated her without her knowing, which is really, really bad. Not sure the character is that petty.

  • e jerry powell

    And given how wrapped up Ethan still is with Virginia (he still wants to marry her, for Pete's sake!) and the way he's feeling about the other women who are "lesser" than she, I'm not sure he's all that interested in "sullying" Libby, no matter what a jerk William is.

  • Guest

    Yeah, it would be totally out of character (despite his drunken surgery this episode, which, wow).

  • e jerry powell

    I'm not sure where this down-spiral with him is headed. I hate to think that he crashes and burns as a doctor because of Virginia's Magic Vagina, but the way TV goes...

  • Guest

    Magic Vagina. That was funny :)

  • e jerry powell

    I was gonna make a hip-hop reference, but I decided to go another way with it so as not to be so marginal and 80s-centric.

    Between Magic Vagina and Murder Vagina, it looks to be an challenging year for penises.

  • e jerry powell

    Buy me a diet Coke!

  • Guest

    Happily :)

  • e jerry powell

    The implication is certainly there, but I'm not completely certain that Ethan is that professionally unethical, and I don't believe that Libby would have been down with it. His interpersonal ethics are another matter.

  • Maddy

    Girl, run far far away. Licking scotch off your boob is a no no.

  • e jerry powell

    George, Virginia's third ex-husband...


  • Three_nineteen

    A TV show where all the representatives of your gender are one-dimensional? How terrible that must be.

    Although I don't agree that the male characters are one-dimensional. The ex doesn't have a lot of depth yet, but he's only been in one episode. Masters has good backstory for most of his jerkiness (I'm not happy about the obsessive stalkery shit, hopefully that's explained waaaaay better and/or stopped quickly), but his gentleness with his patients is another side of him. His bedside manner shows he really does care about the women he treats. I suspect Ethan will reveal other sides to him once he gets out of HIS obsessive phase.

  • Maddy

    I love Michael Sheen, but he still is Tony Blair to me in everything

  • Marc Greene

    He's forever Wesley Snipes to me.

  • Maddy

    I finally managed to have some sympathy for Masters, especially when he did the procedure for the woman with the asshole husband, but then he went full creep at the end and it super skeeved me out. I thought his mother was awesome, and I hate all the Ethan scenes and don't understand why they exist - yep, I think I understand that he's a womanising douchebag. I felt so bad for him with the scenes with the children because you could tell that he wanted to be kind to them but just had no idea how.

    The whole thing where everyone's apparently obsessed with Virginia was a bit ridiculous though - I mean I get it, it's Lizzy Caplan, but let's just calm down a bit guys.

  • Guest

    I had the same feelings. Three men super into her at the same time is pushing it. She's not some sex goddess who only exists to please men. But maybe that's the point, that men are so clueless about female sexuality that any glimpse into it is fascinating. I dunno, I just want at least one of them to treat her like an actual human being.

  • Maddy

    I'm going to give the show some credit here and presume that we're not supposed to endorse this male view of her if that makes any sense. Hopefully they start going into her backstory soon. I know she's based on a real person but at the moment she doesn't really feel like a real character to me but I'm hoping they're going to flesh her out more soon.

    But the whole 'with her my life is colour like in the Wizard of Oz' or whatever the hell that speech was was kind of ridiculous. Hasn't it been 5 months or so since they 'broke up'? I mean I know you guys had good sex but come on. At the moment she just exists as a male fantasy and typical 'progressive' woman out of time.

  • Guest

    I agree with you completely. I almost feel like the Wizard of Oz analogy was more to show how Masters feels about her than the ex. Or to show how tempted he is by the thought of a woman in control.

    I have faith that it will get better. In the meantime, I'm enjoying it a lot.

  • Guest

    I adore Michael Sheen, and I'm loving watching him be a total dick to everyone. He's so good at it. This episode gave us a lot more insight into Bill, which we desperately needed.

    I'm a little annoyed by the way they're setting Ginny up as the male fantasy. I get that that's the point: she's a confident woman who knows what she likes. She can guide men to becoming better lovers/dancers. Bill is drawn to this, which makes sense. But it seems like every man is drawn to her. Her ex, Haas, etc. I hope they do more with Ginny's character development. SPOILER: When she inevitably gets together with Bill, I want it to be weird and interesting and complicated.

  • Bedewcrock

    Huh. According to IMDb, Mather Zickel (George) was in the Porn awards (Sin Say Shun Awards Afterparty) episode in Party Down. Does that count as full circle?

  • e jerry powell

    If you want to go there, then it works.

  • Marc Greene
  • Haystacks

    This is terrifying.

  • Marc Greene

    You'll thank/hate me.

  • Krissy

    5 hours!!! That is hilarious

  • PDamian

    Heard over and over, it's almost musical, like some sort of insane riff.

  • Tinkerville

    What in the name of Godtopus did I just watch and why in the hell did I watch it for so long?! I let it run for a good four minutes.

  • BWeaves

    Why is it that women who wanted to get nekkid in the 1950's always looked like the prettiest girl next door? Nowadays, they all look like dirty (and I do mean unclean), plastic, overly made up, fake haired, fake bobbed tramps.

  • Haystacks

    A combination of censorship and the pornification of culture. A combination of photoshop and plastic surgery has created this monstrous ascetic. If you look at 1950s porn, it really does look like normal people without their clothes on. Now that we have all decided that this weirdly shiny plastic look that appears in most mass media is normal, it is everywhere.

    If you take a look at real life people, and TV people, it is like we are not even the same species. In real life color is a bit flatter, all body parts sag a bit due to gravity. But in some bizarre way we have decided that the TV people are the real people, and then we compare real life people and find them wanting.

    It is all creepy as fuck, really.

  • Guest

    Are you talking about women in general, or in TV/film?

  • BWeaves

    TV/Film. Even the trampiest 1950's women just looked like they were wearing the wrong shade of lipstick.

  • Guest

    Fewer options, I'd imagine. No Victoria's Secret to buy trampy lingerie at. But also I think the quality of undergarments and lipstick was probably much better than today. And fake boobs were not an option. Costume/makeup people must take all of this into account.

  • Everymanchild


  • Blake

    Whoever the actress is in that header photo is really pretty. Like WOW!

  • e jerry powell

    The one with the breasteses?

    She is pretty. The character, I suspect, is not going to end well, between her schoolgirl crush Ethan, her closeted dad, and her yet-to-be seen sexually repressed/unsatisfied mother. She's a girl that's never developed any self esteem, what with being young and female in the Truman and Eisenhower administrations.

  • theotherone

    Rose McIver.

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