My Take On…MASTERS OF SEX on Showtime

Masters of SexAfter the HOMELAND S3 premiere tonight on Showtime, be sure that you’re sticking around for the best drama of the 2013-2014 season, MASTERS OF SEX, starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.  Sheen and Caplan play William Masters and Virginia Johnson, pioneers of research relating to the human sexual response, plus research into sexual disorders and dysfunctions, from 1957 through the 1990s.  In the pilot, we’re introduced to Bill as he’s trying desperately to get Barton Scully (Beau Bridges, on the best drama, and one of the worst comedies of the season; who knew?) to approve his very-taboo research topics.  Looking for an assistant, he hires the quick-witted, twice-divorced Virginia, whose freedom with sexuality made her an asset to Bill’s research. Outside of their research, Masters and his wife are trying to get pregnant (the one drawback to the show is how she insists on calling him Daddy and it bothers me to no end), while Johnson falls into a quick fling with one of Bill’s fellow OBGYNs, though the two of them do eventually fall in love (the seeds are sewn in the pilot for their inevitable relationship) as the real Masters and Johnson got married in 1971.

They pack so much story into the first hour (and you’d imagine they have to, if they intend to tell the whole story about their storied careers), but, and most importantly, it doesn’t feel like it was too much.  I was completely enthralled from top to bottom and the performances are fantastic.  Sheen is reserved but inquisitive, and Caplan is beautiful, confident, and free.  They have great chemistry, and I couldn’t wait to start episode 2 (and before I knew what was happening, I was on episode 4 and obsessed).  The whole supporting cast is fantastic, too – great turns by Beau Bridges, Allison Janney (as Scully’s wife), Nicholas D’Agosto, and Teddy Sears do great work, while Annaleigh Ashford (as Betty, the first subject), Caitlin Fitzgerald (Mrs Masters), and Helene Yorke (Jane) are exceptionally noteworthy for their varied turns as women of the times! Though the sex is plentiful, it doesn’t feel gratuitous as we’re watching with a clinical eye, must like Masters and Johnson.  Easy to watch, easy to enjoy – a smart drama that could be the next big thing for Showtime; do yourself a favor and tune in!