Masters of Sex Season 2 Episode 2

(I told myself I was going to start using more straightforward titles but how could I resist that pull quote? I also considered “Every good fight begins with pizza”.)

Good Lord, Masters Of Sex. The Previouslies were as long for this week as for last week, when they recapped the entirety of season 1. I mean, people can pick up some things from context clues, you know?

Then again, the show is doing a bit of a reboot. Everything is the same, of course, no big changes, but they’re doing that thing where, now that they have a second season, they have to slow down on Bill and Virginia. Keep them apart as much as they can, make it harder and harder for them to connect – so that we can keep the stories going.

This works okay on the Bill side. There is a lot going on and, in true Mad Men fashion (don’t kid yourself that Masters Of Sex doesn’t want to emulate all the parts of that show), they’ve blown up his entire world so he can start from scratch. Mostly, this works, and the prospect of a new boss and new investors and new patients is invigorating, not least because it means Bill can’t just be a dick all the time. I am interested in people who want something from him and, by and large, though it can get tiresome, I buy that he would basically be a party favour just for being able to tell people that yes, x or y sexual proclivity is normal.

However, I was so tired of Rose and her problems and the fact that Dr. Masters was the only one out for her own good. I get that part of the problem with regard to sexuality back then was that women weren’t supposed to have any (another reason Virginia is such a unicorn) but the story didn’t resonate with me – certainly as not more than the sum of its parts. Betty hanging around just to give a speech (and I don’t love Betty to begin with), the histrionic mother, and the name Rose…it was all just a little much. I accept that Bill Masters’ only humanity is in saving women in these situations, but maybe I don’t want to watch his savior complex for the millionth time (see also when he’s with Scully’s daughter). We get the point already.   He’s flawed, but cares. I don’t know, it felt a little heavy handed to me. Maybe it’s also that I didn’t like the acting.

You know whose acting I love though? And always have? Keke Palmer’s.

I will watch Palmer as just about anyone on anything but in this case she’s quite literally breathing air into the stale house as Coral, Libby’s confidant/punching bag. 
I have to applaud this move too. Keke Palmer is magnetic in anything, but especially as a chatty “child” in the stifling world. So it’s kind of little wonder that Libby finally sees someone she can feel superior too. They’re a little too much the same, what with organizing their lives around “the boys” and keeping smiling and happy – except as Bill keeps taking things away from Libby while continuing not to give her any love, something’s gotta give. She’s got to hurt someone. Coral is convenient. I hope though that it doesn’t preclude fights with Bill. I want to see Libby fight with Bill.

Mostly because Virginia can’t. After Jane last year (I miss you Jane! Don’t go to California!) I assume the hapless Dr. Masters secretary is going to be a running gag, and imagine a show set in the 50s stealing a bit from a show set in the 80s/90s. I love the world. But I miss Virginia having organic opportunities to yell at Bill and it seemed like this week’s barking at him to get her on staff was just so much handwaving so we wouldn’t notice that she wasn’t there and wasn’t that upset about it – in fact, it was so incongruous it might have been written after the fact.

I’ve talked about the only problem with this show being that Virginia teeters on the edge of being a Mary Sue, and now that she makes fewer rash decisions it’s even more true. I read something not too long ago that says someone must be truly incredible to have a whole TV show written about them. It’s meant to be for writers, to remind them why they’re telling the story they are and to make their characters do interesting things. But in this case I sometimes feel as though we’re saved from having to wonder why fictional Virginia has a show about her since, well, real Virginia was interesting enough, right?

Because I’m not totally sure why. I don’t want to watch a show that’s solely about her telling Dr. Masters how to be a person. I’ve seen that show before in different forms, and frankly it’s a bore.  I know this show isn’t that, and that they’re holding back only to make sure they don’t run out of story. But I’d like Virginia to say and do things that don’t involve her helping others, whether it’s Dr. DePauw (my new favourite character, by the way) or the pervy “esophagus doctor”.

Dr. Langham is pretty endearing though, huh? Philandering aside?