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Why Won't My Dick Work! What We Learned From This Week's 'Masters of Sex'

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | October 28, 2013 | Comments ()


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I Am Not a Sexual Lemon — No, you’re not Dr. Langham. What you are suffering from is something we in the 21st century refer to as “feelings,” which is often lost on the men of this show. Masters of Sex is as much about the males in this series coming to terms with their emotions as it is about the journey toward a sexual awakening for women. Dr. Langham can’t get it up because he’s fallen in love with Jane, and that is presenting some internal issues, and even guilt, because when he’s with another woman, he feels like he’s cheating on Jane, and when he’s with Jane, he feels (rightfully) like he’s cheating on his wife.

One of the major themes in this episode was how to isolate the physiology of sex from the chemistry and attraction couples feel for one another. Libby thinks that sexual attraction should factor in, and Masters believes that emotional connections present too many complications. I think they’re both right.

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You Deflowered the Provost’s Daughter? — Speaking of chemistry, poor Ethan “Pussy Whiskers” Haas doesn’t have it for the provost’s daughter, Vivian, which is a shame because Vivian is luminous. Unfortunately, she did just as Dr. Haas feared: She parlayed her V-card into a relationship. Vivian’s mom (more on her in a moment) convinced Vivian that she needed to make Dr. Haas “want” her, and naive little Vivian went about that the exact wrong way. “You have my devotion, because you and I are meant to be together.” RUN DR. HAAS. RUN! That is not going to work long-term with Ethan because he’s a cad (who is at times a very charming cad), though it will work in the short-term because Ethan likes his job very much.

Meanwhile, Vivian’s busted hymen gave us the first of two blood splatters on the night.

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JANNEY — Isn’t the Provost’s wife lovely? If only she knew her husband liked fellas. Or maybe it’s OK that she doesn’t. Look, it’s the ’50s. If the provost can get some gay strange on the side without upsetting the marriage, and they have managed to maintain their relationship for 30 years, why not just continue with the charade? No harm, no foul. Everyone seems to be happy with the arrangement, except Bill Masters, but Dr. Masters can be a bit of a prick. For Allison Janney, I’d pretend to be straight, too (wait. That didn’t come out right).

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What’s the Point of Even Having a Mom? — I know, right? Virginia’s son is upset because his mother spends too much time in the office, and not enough time taking him out for ALL the cherry pie. He wants to live with his Dad, but his Dad is kind of an asshole, but he is a fun asshole. Virginia is having a helluva time trying to balance her work with her home life, and so far, it’s her poor kids who are suffering. “I’m not meant to do this alone,” she says, and it’s hard to disagree. Ethan uses this particular weakness of Virginia’s as an opportunity to get closer to her through her son. It’s obviously a play, but I like to think that Ethan has some genuine affection for the little nerd, too. How could you not? Plus, these two really do make a sweet-looking couple, don’t they?

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God Cannot Be That Cruel — Oh, but he can, Libby. I wasn’t ready for this episode, yet, although I did sense that it was coming.

(REAL-LIFE SPOILERS For the record, Bill Masters does have a son (with Virginia, actually) who has been arrested twice for public masturbation. END REAL-LIFE SPOILERS)

It was at this moment that my heart fell into my stomach and didn’t crawl back out until the episode had ended.

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Libby lost the baby, and I had hoped that this — of all things — would finally bring Masters’ emotions out. It eventually did, but not with the woman that deserved to see Bill cry. LIBBY EARNED THAT, GODDAMNIT. We understand why, because Bill was raised by an abusive father and a mother who had conditioned him to stick his head in the sand, though his repressed feelings seep out from time to time in his sleepwalking.

But Libby. God. I know you’re just a character in a television show, but still, I am so, so sorry. No television character should have to go through that. And Bill, how did you manage this moment without falling to your fucking knees and sobbing until the end of the universe?

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I am the biggest sucker on the face of the planet for the stone-cold, emotionally repressed father finally coming to terms with his emotions trope (see, e,g., Billy Elliot, or even October Sky), so when Masters finally broke down in front of Virginia, well, as they say, cry and the whole world cries like madmen with you.

Yes, I might have popped off a sympathetic sob or two. Look away, ladies. Men look like monsters when our souls break in half.

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RIP Katherine Masters.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • e jerry powell

    MORE REAL-LIFE SPOILERS: Will Masters also has a daughter, Sara.

    As far as the breakup of the marriage to Libby, that's a ways off. At the time of the indecent exposure arrest in Michigan (2012), Masters fils was 60 years old, putting his birthdate sometime in 1952, and since 1) Masters and Johnson wouldn't get married for another nineteen years at that point, and 2) Virginia was still married to George Johnson until 1956, it's not likely that Masters fils is actually her son. (Every source I've been able to find thus far indicates that Johnson only ever had two kids, and they were George Johnson's.)

    Of course, for purposes of the show, Masters is depicted as childless in the late fifties, and within the narrative, Virginia is already divorced, so my guess is that the show now is somewhere in 1958 or 1959, and the Masters' non-existent (for TV purposes) son is about seven years old.

  • John W

    I keep wondering why Dana on Homeland is the "most hated" character on TV and Dr Haas on Masters of Sex isn't.

  • Hollyg

    I don't know why Ginny didn't reply to his offering to babysit her kid with "are you fucking insane you got drunk and punched me in the face I don't care if you manage to be decent every now and then stay away from my child"

  • e jerry powell

    I think TV Ginny is used to giving men the benefit of the doubt, even when they don't deserve it.

  • Cree83

    I was curious as to why Bill was allowed to be his wife's doctor, as I thought treating family members was an ethics violation. Am i wrong? Or was this just not the case 60 years ago?

  • Sean

    I don't quite get why Dr. Douchebag isn't delighted with Vivian.

    Rose McIver is absurdly gorgeous.

  • PDamian

    The best thing about this show is how it careens between extremes: from the black comedy of poor Dr Langham screaming about his dysfunctional unit and the Christian couple who thought they were barren even though they'd never had sex (but they slept together every night!), to the shock on Bill Masters's face when he sees the blood on Libby's skirt and his convulsing sobs at the end of the episode. Oddly, though, the thing that affected me most was when Bill puts his hand on Virginia's face so that she'll shut her eyes; it was such a despairing gesture.

    Allison Janney is always beautiful, but she was particularly lovely last night. The flowing, wavy hairstyle and red gown were quite becoming.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Jeezy Creezy with the header photos and headlines, Pajiba!

  • Guest

    This was perhaps one of the most emotional episodes I've seen. Bill Masters pulling out and holding his own child's dead body seemed punishing. Difficult to not feel sympathy for him.

  • Keith D. Kurman

    this show is dumb. I'm sorry but I just can't get it up for it, perhaps I have "feelings" for it, yeah like, bored.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth
  • pajiba

    Interesting perspective. Thanks!

  • Art3mis

    Sheen is so, so good in this role. It's got to be hard to play a character that unglamorously unlikeable without totally losing the audience, but much as I dislike Bill most of the time, damn if I didn't tear up with him at the end of this episode. Just really, really well done.

  • foolsage

    Bill holding his stillborn daughter was amazing; Sheen really nailed the repression that barely let his powerful emotions register on his face. That final scene, with Bill sobbing uncontrollably and insisting that Ginnie close her eyes so as not to see his weakness, was devastating. Marvelous episode.

  • Marc Greene

    This was my favorite part of the episode.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

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