MASTERS OF SEX PremieresOctober 03, 2013


Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan / MASTERS OF SEX (Showtime)

On Demand Weekly provides new reviews of hot movies and shows on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: “MASTERS OF SEX” on Showtime. 

If sex sells, the first episode of MASTERS OF SEX should be the most watched episode of television ever. After the first episode, however, the series settles down a bit, and the sex is definitely not erotic, unless you are into clinical settings and find ekg paraphernalia exciting. After the audience realizes this is not actually about sex, will they stick around for the drama? After meeting Lizzy Caplan’s Virginia Johnson and Michael Sheen’s Dr. Masters, I believe they will!

An interestingly odd couple, she is a down-to-earth, twice-divorced mother of two with a quite advanced attitude towards sex. He is a rather uptight, stern medical professional who nevertheless is fascinated by the physiological mechanics of human sexuality. Michael Sheen walks a fine line between brittle and passionate. It is not easy to like Dr. Masters, especially the way he treats his first wife, Libby (the lovely Caitlyn Fitzgerald), but it is hard not to root for his success all the same.


Lizzy Caplan’s Ginny

is absolute perfection.


It is quite obvious why not only the men, but the women around her find her irresistible. Smart, warm, sexy, caring and clever, she is the kind of woman who is capable of anything she sets her mind to.

There is a lot of will they won’t they in the initial episodes, but since it is common knowledge that SPOILER ALERT they were married to each other for most of their careers, it is not too suspenseful. The mystery of will the study get cancelled or funded is also moot.

What is intriguing is how they progress to each stage of the research fighting the prejudices of the medical establishment and society in general. Having to set up a research facility in a whorehouse is not exactly a highly controlled setting. It does, however, add a lot of humor and sets up a great relationship between hooker Betty DiMello (played by the effervescent Annaleigh Ashford with a quiet desperation underneath her full-on sass) and Dr. Masters. She, along with Virginia, are perfect foils for Bill’s conflicts.


The third and fourth episodes start really deepening the drama, and with the arrival of Bill’s mother, we finally start to get a peek into what makes him tick, and perhaps why he is so interested in sex, but not very good at it.

For fans of the art design of MAD MEN, MASTERS OF SEX also has drool-worthy midcentury modern style, although it is a little too pristine. It is hard to believe anyone actually lives or works on those sets. No one has a messy desk or a dirty dish, and even with two children, Virginia’s house has nary a stray toy in sight. When we finally get to a “messy” location, it consists of one piece of clothing strewn on a chair! Even the sex seems to be awfully clean, but I guess there is only so much reality we can handle in a show that focuses on sex researchers.




- Jean Tait


Jean Tait is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. Currently the Director of Programming for the Connecticut Film Festival, Jean has programmed for the Jacksonville Film Festival and Sundance Channel.


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