When the cat’s away…
Masters Of Sex Season 1 Episode 6 recap
Oh, Libby. I knew there was a reason you were on this show and not an annoying, insipid actress but someone who had actual dramatic heft (Caitlin FitzGerald has been in everything), but this still made me sad.
It’s sad from the beginning, of course. Bill and Libby desperately need a vacation to reconnect and get away from the sadness, unless of course you realize that all there is is the sadness. Usually, the story goes that couples are so wound up in their children that they don’t realize until they’re away from them how little they have in common anymore, and I guess that’s true for Bill & Libby too. They were pinning all their interactions on the birth of their child and now that it’s not happening – what is there?
I was all set to castigate Bill for his short-sighted Madonna-Whore complex where he can’t see Libby as a woman with a sexual side and value and wants her only to be the saintly mother of his children, etc but then again, watching him deal with the clueless teens in his office, with the various subjects, with Virginia, I begin to suspect something much more insidious – he’s just not attracted to her. As a woman. As his wife. It’s kind of upsetting when you think of it that way, but it’s also kind of a relief. Bill Masters isn’t a weird sex-obsessed eunuch – he’s just a man who doesn’t love his wife That Way.
In fact, it’s a fairly common problem, it seems. Allison Janney plays that special kind of heartbroken woman she does so well, as we learn that the Provost’s wife is rather innocent in…all things, really. I know I was supposed to feel delighted for her when she finally got a leg over and figured out what everyone was getting at all that time, but really it was just kind of sad. It’s a long time that she languished, thinking it was okay to feel how she was feeling. (The malapropism when she described the end of sex as ‘’relief” was extra knife-twisty. I cringed. Why does Janney have to mark time on a network sitcom? )
It’s a pretty dismal view of marriage the show takes, which might be strangely comforting if you were Virginia Johnson. After last week’s rendition of “It’s a hard knock life as a single mom”, it’s nice for her to see that it’s not greener on the other side. In fact, her distance from the various marriages allows her perspective…that ultimately leads her to prove she can have an orgasm solely through stimulating her breasts. I mean, it’s not my biggest revelation about marriage, but we all come to these things differently.
Still, it was Libby’s hour, wasn’t it? It’s a testament to the relationship between her and William that she actually gets to dictate the terms of, if not their vacation, then the end of it. Then she proceeds to embarrass herself in a way that I didn’t know she could. She’s mortal, and has horrible/feasible fantasies about what it would be like to live without a husband and a couple of kids named Tommy or Timmy or whatever. The merry widow scenario doesn’t suit her either, though, when Mr. Gross Geriatric comes to call. The moral of the story here seems to be that nobody can be happy, ever at all.
Then again, there’s Jane, the most enlightened, sexually satisfied, mammarily-orgasmic woman living in the mid-50s. If I’m not mistaken, everyone in that hospital should be taking notes from her on exactly how to live.