Masters Of Sex Season 3 Episode 7 recap.

You know, I was out of town last night and wasn’t sure I was going to be able to watch Masters Of Sex. I did actually manage to, but when I wasn’t sure, I checked out some tweets to see what everyone else thought—the term ‘jump the shark’ came up a lot.

So…did it? I don’t think so, but I do think this is a weird result of having big storylines show up out of nowhere. For the amount of real estate and significance the Gil the ape story took up (and yes, if you’re reading this, there was a sexual situation involving an ape who got Virginia to get partially nude, and none of that is a euphemism), what did it tell us that we didn’t know, except that Bill is relentless in his pursuit of anything that will look good in a Newsweek article, and has zero problems throwing Virginia under the bus?

Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. It’s nothing she didn’t know, and that’s why this show is such a problem—there’s no clear idea of where it’s going. Okay, Bill’s relationship with Johnny is strained, but it’s developing at a snail’s pace and with no clearer trajectory. Where are these two going? If it’s nowhere, then why do we keep seeing the eternal cockblocking? The humiliation that Bill delights in?

I can only justify it in the sense that he’s a user—in fact, most of the people on this show use and are being used, often in the same breath. Virginia often does—she uses her ability to manipulate Bill to get her into a compromising position with the ape in the first place. Bill uses her to further his agenda. Jane uses the excuse of her friend being in need of help to get out of the house, so to speak, and takes advantage of Lester’s taciturn nature. Dan uses Tessa for information, and then feels bad for having used a teenager that way, not least one who is Virginia’s daughter; and of course, Betty and Helen are very open about the way they want to use Dr. Langham, whose costume is the best so far.

Actually, Betty and Helen had the most resonance to me as a story, though I may have been primed for this plot because Michelle Ashford explained it in great detail a couple of weeks ago at the TCA. Same sex parents and their rights and struggles to have families of their own was newsworthy in the 90s and 2000s –in the 1960s it would have been, as Betty put it, just not in the cards. I appreciated the way they went about the idea with practicality and not hand-wringing, but I would have loved to see a bit of their lives to know what it was they were getting into. Helen comes off as a dizzy dame who just wants to be pregnant, and I think that’s unfortunate—discussing the idea that they’d like a child and why it would have made this look less like an effort to ‘tackle the issues’.

Because…it does. We have a laundry list of ‘wacky shenanigans’ stories that were probably pitches on the writers’ room wall, and the biggest issue I have with the ape storyline, other than the gorilla suit, which is tertiary, and the wacky music during the Alex Borstein thing, which is secondary, is that it seems kind of an early-days thing for Masters & Johnson to concern themselves with. They don’t need the ‘acclaim’ this would bring, they were already going to be interviewed by Newsweek! 

In fact, that’s the most difficult part of all this. Bill and Virginia wear nice clothes, as they always have, and nobody complains about their car payments, but…what else does this success look like? Are hotel concierges the only people who recognize them? Do women’s magazines try to profile Virginia alone and get turned down?

Without these benchmarks, it seems like the push-pull of Bill and Virginia and the “we are NOT involved”, and the Libby Masters storylines purely because Caitlin Fitzgerald is great, it seems like we’re treading water yet again...and it’s hard to get excited for something that feels like work.

But it was pretty satisfying seeing that baseball card burn, wasn’t it? Johnny Masters’ daddy issues are all of our daddy issues.