Mothers and Fathers
Masters of Sex Season 1 Episode 5 recap.
Well. Is anyone watching this show except me? Because it is just really satisfying. That sounds awful to say in the wake of this week’s deeply sad episode, but you get the idea. I just don’t know if people are exploring these ideas – about families and genetics and how your sexual self is like the rest of you – anywhere else, and it’s valuable.
They tried for some lightness, such as it was. Ethan and Vivian, the provost’s daughter, have a sort of Wedding-Crashers-Lite thing going on. She trapped him via the surrender of her virginity, and now he’s stuck. I didn’t totally buy this from this 18 year old – who’s sophisticated enough to say it’s only physical the night before and then surprise him with a “HAAAA, just kidding”? The show wants me to see Ethan as a hapless adorable fop who didn’t haul off and deck Virginia in the pilot, and I can’t forget it but I feel like I’m supposed to. If I hadn’t seen that, of course, I’d be melting in his pools of deep brown puppy eyes. As it is…I’m glad he connected with Henry?
But of course this was another story that tested who Masters and Johnson could be outside of clinical sexual situations. It’s easy to have the answers when a couple doesn’t know that “sleeping together” is a euphemism, but much harder when your own children don’t want to be with you anymore. I have to say that Henry’s disappointment with Virginia felt like the plot an older boy would be better suited to, but then you couldn’t have the anxiety of a little boy lost. I didn’t necessarily buy that coming from him, but Virginia’s panic …and the fact that she STILL offered to stay at work, after all that, remind us that maybe Henry’s not that far off base, and that Virginia is a very modern woman who will probably pay for her ambition and stretching outside the limits of what “women” can do. But then, what else is new?
I found the Provost’s story about his wife (Allison Janney, who should be on cable shows all the time instead of having to be on that show she’s currently doing) to be sweet rather than awkward. I’m supposed to feel a little wink-wink, I guess, in the sense that we know it’s not as simple as being in love forever, but when is it? He seemed to genuinely appreciate her and I thought it was a nice moment for us, as well as Bill, to see. You can be a flawed man and still love your wife.
At least, the provost can. Bill, on the other hand, well, that may actually be a bridge too far for him. We’re still scratching the surface on Bill’s issues, but the fact that everything about Libby reminds him of his own failures is…let’s say problematic. The grief over his ambivalence and the subsequent miscarriage is totally real, palpable, and understandable, and I felt “closer” to Bill than in any episode before. But when he shuts down the idea of ever doing it again, because of “Libby’s” pain, well, all I could see was a lifetime of that sterile house stretching out in front of her and I wanted to vomit on her behalf.
It’s a curious thing, when all is said and done – why does a man who is so clearly clinical, and lacks warmth on an almost fundamental level, need to find out about the workings of sex? Sure, it’s human biology, but it’s also, as we well know, about human connection and interaction and, as Virginia had to point out to the occasionally dense Dr. Masters, it’s also about attraction. The question is, why is this Bill’s passion? Is it so that he can fake the sentiments eventually? We’ve never seen him in anything resembling lust – not since he asked Mrs. Johnson in the most awkward way possible to be his study-buddy. What can Bill possibly hope to repair in himself when he learns more about the softer side of sex?
Finally, I hope some men are watching this show. Because I’ve learned certain things in my life, and one of them is that a grown woman walking around screaming “Why doesn’t my DICK work?!!?” is not going to elicit the desired effect. Sometimes comedy is subjective, but this isn’t one of those times. However, it is hilarious, so I certainly hope somebody’s running around screaming it. Just a suggestion.