In Masters of Sex’s “Below the Belt,” we saw the worst of Bill come out as he fought Frank — and himself. Denial and perception are some of the biggest themes of the series, and everyone is reluctant to confront their actions. Bill can’t handle the idea of Frank’s story not jiving with the one he concocted in his head — that once Bill left home, his abusive father didn’t transfer his anger to Frank — and he’s racked with guilt. No, despair. Is despair really the greatest sin, as Barb and Lester discuss? They both confess to each other that they gave up when it came to finding healing. A bloodied Bill in turn said “I give up” to Virginia as he reeled from his fight with Frank. But when it comes to his impotence, at least, it was giving up and being in a powerless position that helped him (apparently) overcome the dysfunction. Was this another instance of someone needing to hit bottom in order to regain control over their life, or does this speak to something in Bill’s psychosis?
Written by Bathsheba Doran and Eileen Myers and directed by Adam Arkin, also a guest actor on the show, the 10th episode of Season Two continued the journey of heading for a major boiling point. It also presented several sticky situations, proving this show isn’t interested in easy, comfortable storytelling. From Libby’s continued participation in and stubbornness surrounding CORE (just how much of this is white guilt?) to the unnecessary Austin and his Cal-O-Metric dealings and now abusive relationship with Flo (who is the one doing the abusing), Masters of Sex certainly is challenging its viewers.
Mallory Andrews, of cléo and Movie Mezzanine, and I discuss these topics and more in the latest Podcasters of Sex episode. We’re joined by special guest Elise Hu, a tech and culture reporter at NPR. You can listen to our “Below the Belt” discussion here:
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Join us next week for episode 11, “One for the Money, Two for the Show.”
Sarah Carlson is Television Editor for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio. You can find her on Twitter.