Despite the fact that Masters of Sex has been very heavy-handed in its themes in the last few weeks (particularly in “Fallout”), the payoff, for those of us who have stuck with it, has been immense. The personal dramas have unfolded and refolded and been folded again in ways that are surprisingly believable. The central relationship between Bill and Ginny is one that seemingly has to be kept fresh and ever-changing since their future together is known, but the way the show has kept them from becoming anything more than partners (either in the study or at work) has not been arbitrary. Ethan is available to Ginny, and Bill is not. She likes his wife, plus, he insults Ginny with his guilt after his own emotional failings — something that happens a lot with the men on the show. Hit the jump for more.
Perhaps the more interesting relationship, even though it’s been more predictable, has been the one between Ginny and Dr. DePaull. Masters of Sex has always heavily included gender politics into its storylines, and Ginny getting out from under the controlling and manipulative thumb of Bill to assist DePaull is one that pays off in a number of ways. Ginny using her ways and means (both personal and professional) to help DePaull is not something that can be scrutinized through gender like her relationship with Masters. The secretary pool whispered about girls who had affairs with their bosses, and how that failed. Ginny is too smart to get caught up in that.
Of course, she does actually believe in Bill’s work and his study, and since there’s no way he can run it without her, it won’t be long until she returns to his side. But the point is that she is no longer beholden to him, and can assert herself without fear (one could argue she always did, and they did have blowups in the past). Options for women are still limited, though — something Margaret comes up against with her own group of friends regarding the perils of divorce for older women.
Even the Pregnancy of the Week faced that “for women it’s different, even though it should be equal” issue in a way which seems so obvious regarding the study, and yet: “Had it been reversed, I would have felt the same way,” Bill says to Ginny about protecting the anonymity of his study participants. “If the man had gotten pregnant?” she asks. He’s silent. Because there’s not a comparable situation, though somehow a shadow of the fact there is hangs around. “A husband strays, the wife pays,” Margaret’s friend says. The women get the short end of the stick.
Masters of Sex again tackled many difficult truths, from the gendered politics to the more personal problems of Margaret finding out about her Barton’s homosexuality, Ethan being rejected for a full-time position at the hospital, Ginny piecing together Bill’s emotional issues, and Langham finding out he accidentally fathered a child. For once though, the show allowed a few happy moments too, like Jane and Lester’s silly kiss, the crazy Civil Defense drill, Langham’s freakout, and DePaull attempting to charm the chancellor (and failing spectacularly). That balance felt better, but the dense use of metaphor (like Margaret and Langham floating / treading water … even though it was a beautifully shot scene) lessens the overall effect. Still, it’s a more dynamic shift for a show that started off pretty stagnant.
Episode Rating: B
Musings and Miscellanea:
— No Libby makes me unhappy!
— I really love Margaret’s character, she and Ethan are carrying the show. Her bravery to approach the prostitute and discuss things was phenomenal, especially when followed by such an incredible revelation for her. The moment in the bedroom where she laid down on Barton’s bed was so sad. Seriously, prep your Emmy ballots.
— It’s interesting that we never have seen Margaret’s reaction to Vivian’s situation with Ethan. We never saw her when the engagement was on (and Margaret was so cynical about marriage), nor now in the aftermath of the breakup. I’m sure Marg could be offering some important wisdom … Barton at least had some comment on it when Ethan confronted him, but still, seems odd.
— Ethan inserting himself back in Ginny’s life so fully, taking care of her kids and sitting on her bed like that, I had to laugh. That relationship is so doomed.
— “I was basically an organ donor!” – Langham
— I love Lester and his rambling about film.
— Such a waste of Anne Dudek in that brief cameo as the woman with multiple orgasms!
— On the Beach, which Jane mentions reading, is a really great book. Its guess at what would trigger a nuclear world war though is eerily something that could definitely happen