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

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 21, 2013 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 21, 2013 |

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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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.