Screenshot of Masters of Sex title card via 4oD

Review: Masters of Sex (Season Two)

C+

I’m not sure how Showtime (of all places) managed to make a show about sex dull. Masters of Sex may in fact be the television equivalent of a sleeping pill. This was also quite possibly the first series I reviewed where I felt compelled to go to sleep halfway through, and pick the rest up later. It’s as if it set out to prove a show with “Sex” in the name could be as boring as a series with “CSI,” “Law & Order” or “Tavis Smiley” in the title.

If you just joined the second season of Masters of Sex without seeing the first as I did, you may find it isn’t explicitly clear what’s going on, however, I think I was able to pick up enough so I wasn’t completely lost. 

Electroshock therapy—Masters of Sex

Has electroshock therapy done anyone any good? (screenshot via Showtime)

Suicide Attempt—Masters of Sex

Certainly one of the more tense moments I’ve seen on television (screenshot via Showtime)

Sex Scene—Masters of Sex

Some of the sex scenes serve no purpose (screenshot via 4oD)

Spoiler alert: One of the few elements besides Masters’ sex study that didn’t feel done to death on TV (premium cable or even regular old broadcast) was that of a gay patient of his who tries electroshock therapy. He’s rather desperate to shake homosexuality in hopes of saving his marriage, but after trying and failing to have sex with his wife, he attempts suicide. It’s pretty grim and one of the few elements of the show that feels as if it could’ve only been done justice on a premium cable network.
While the nudity and sex (if you could call it that) in his storyline felt understandable, there are other times, where even in a show that’s about sex, it seems to do nothing to advance the plot. At least the program doesn’t abuse those scenes to the point where Masters of Sex essentially becomes porn.

The series also doesn’t go crazy with profanity as other premium cable shows do either, like the dreadful “comedy” and spectacular waste of talent Episodes. That’s likely because Masters of Sex is set in the past and people didn’t go around constantly mumbling “fuck” under their breath then as they do now. Perhaps, however, that’s just because the media back then was highly sanitized and that’s the impression it left on us who weren’t alive back then.

Diet pills—Masters of Sex

I Love Lucy had the same gag, but it was far funnier… over 50 years ago (screenshot via 4od)

Parking lot—Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex at least looks authentic (screenshot via Showtime)

Besides that, most of the other stuff you’re left with feels plucked out of a typical soap opera. There are affairs, people drinking and random babies. Masters of Sex also decided to rip off I Love Lucy by having a character try and fail to sell a miracle drug. It was nowhere near as funny when I Love Lucy did it decades ago though.

That aside, the show on a whole looks quite authentic to the 1950s. I couldn’t spot anything looking particularly out of place.

I suppose that doesn’t matter much considering Masters of Sex is dreadfully dull, however, I shouldn’t be that surprised. If we forget they’re researching about sex, this is a series about researchers conducting studies. It’s hard to make that interesting, particularly with it being set decades ago, unless you get a kick out of nostalgia.

I wonder how much mileage Showtime can get out of this series once people get over that Masters of Sex is unabashedly about sex, especially when they somehow manage to make that subject matter extraordinarily dull.

Episodes Reviewed: Parallax
Masters of Sex airs Sundays at 9 p.m. (10 p.m. MT) on The Movie Network/Movie Central

Featured Image: Masters of Sex title card (screenshot via 4oD)

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