For so many reasons, it’s difficult to believe that “One for the Money and Two for the Show” is Masters of Sex‘s penultimate episode this season. It was a season that started out with such excellent potential regarding a shifting paradigm in Ginny and Bill’s relationship, even introducing a race-related storyline that was primed for something so different on television (one that could have even made Masters fully step out of Mad Men‘s shadow by meaningfully incorporating minority characters and perspectives). Instead, the show dropped that Buell Green narrative quickly and unceremoniously, jumped forward in time, and ended back at a place emotionally before “Fight” or even the season opener. Hit the jump for why maybe the show needs someone to tell them they look weird in this tie.
The worst first: what has become of Ginny and Bill’s relationship? As mentioned before the jump, Masters of Sex came out of the gate this year with an excellent and intriguing premise that Bill and Ginny might be coming to terms with their relationship in a new way. Yet only one episode after that, “Fight,” explored the deeper layers of their relationships through role play.
The rest of the episodes this season have just focused on Bill being petulant. For three years he held a grudge because Ginny wanted to refocus the study to be about the work, not about making their sex life into a full-blown affair (even though it already was). And for three years (and counting), Bill refused to understand why Ginny had to make that break. The answer was so simple: he wasn’t getting a divorce, they weren’t really together, and the work itself was — above all, to Ginny — suffering.
And again, in “One for the Money and Two for the Show,” Bill can’t understand why Ginny isn’t paying attention to him at all times. He whines that she’s “not there” for him as he waxes on like a hormonal tween that he can’t “twinkle” in front of the cameras. He’s crippled by his insecurities, and demands she listen and coddle him through each one of his woes. And of course she does, even after he suggests she’s not being a good mother, either. Because it’s not like she already has her own insecurities about her role as a mother, or what she has had to give up in order to serve Bill and the study. And it’s not like Bill hasn’t crushed her idealism again and again about going back to school, or finding a man that fits in with her family. No. Bill needs tending to — drop everything now.
The thing is, of course, is that Libby could have been that person for Bill, but he rejected her. Then Libby started calling him out on his bull, and stopped making him feel like he was special. So now, of course, Bill wants nothing to do with her. Libby, though, has been suffering herself. But Masters — in its many missteps regarding Libby — has her going after Robert, as has been clear since the moment he was introduced (even dating back to last season, when she danced with the black handyman).
Robert tells her some white women just want a black man because there is something they don’t like about themselves. And while Robert truly has been testing Libby, even relishing slightly in humiliating, she basically admitted point-blank that she’s never done anything “wrong,” and clearly gets off on the idea of sleeping with him because it makes her feel edgy. Though she tries to dress it up by talking about how he looks at her and sees her, it’s all a lot of bunk. Robert has never cared about Libby are anything more than a curiosity.
“Wanting to be wanted, not wanting to be ignored, makes a person do strange things,” Flo tells Langham. Their role play isn’t anything like Bill and Ginny’s, but Flo’s purpose in “One for the Money and Two for the Show” was to explain the episode’s theme: to be wanted. Flo spells it out for Langham, while Bill and Libby live it out. But like so much of Masters this season, the results were hollow and far too telegraphed to amount to anything worthwhile.
The more interesting aspects of “One for the Money and Two for the Show” was CBS’s involvement in shooting Bill and Ginny for a documentary feature. What they could and couldn’t say on TV, and what they couldn’t show because of censors, was a genuinely interesting perspective (as they tried to dance around words like “orgasm,” and told Bill he’s not allowed to allude to anything regarding masturbation). Shep was absolutely right that Bill needs to become a salesman to continue to get people interested in his study, and when he stopped acting like an absolute turd in the interview and defended the nature of the work (that it wasn’t prurient, but important to science), he actually came off as the poised yet passionate person Shep (and Roger Corman — the Roger Corman?) were looking for.
But most of “One for the Money and Two for the Show” was a showcase of where Masters has gone wrong this season, and nothing about it feels essential moving into the finale. Maybe Masters needs to write this season off for the most part, and take a close look at itself and the direction its headed for its third season. Then again, “when has self-awareness ever changed a person’s behavior?
Episode Rating: C-
— I can’t help but wonder if Ginny clings on to Bill so much because she has sacrificed so much for the work that she feels like she can’t part with him now (or let him break down). I know she genuinely cares for him but … I don’t know why. Not because he’s not handsome, which was his concern, but because he’s a complete asshole.
— “CBS doesn’t like dildos” – Camera guy.
— “I wasn’t filming From Here to Eternity, although that is an excellent, excellent movie” – Lester.
— It’s weird how Ginny, who is supposed to be this paragon of feminism, has been made into the least strong female on the show. Betty, Libby and Flo all know what they want, and set out to get it (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t). Ginny just waits around to take care of Bill and his needs.
— I don’t know if Libby finally having sex with Robert was supposed to be triumphant, but like Bill’s erection in the last episode, it felt forced, and an unearned moment.
— “For a guy who dips his wick as often as you do, you don’t understand women at all” – Flo. I loved her diatribe on Clark Gable, and confusing Langham with her role playing desires. Her keeping him as some kind of sex slave is so many different types of wrong, but when it comes to his particular character, somehow it feels ok.
— Yes, Bill, you are Tricky Dick.
Masters of Sex Recap