Two episodes into this season, and Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” is making quite a case to blow both FX’s “The Americans” and “The Bridge”out of the water as the best new program on TV this year. Not only is the writing extraordinary, but so are the performances. While you thought that “Mad Men” had ownership of period dramas on TV, this show is carving out a nice little niche for itself. When the only criticism you can offer for a show is that its storytelling relies heavily on zeitgeist, you are doing something right.
The spirit of the times for “Masters of Sex” is that sex is an awful, terrible thing performed by heathens that is not meant to be enjoyed, but used solely to procreate. Therefore, Dr. William Masters chose to keep his research, which included working in a brothel, a secret from his wife for as long as he possibly could. This episode saw him trying to push his wife into more invasive procedures in order to get pregnant since he’s still not telling her that he is the reason why they are struggling to have children.
As excellent as the hour was, we still have to say that there was not really all that much that really happened to push the story forward. It looked as though Virginia was going to be fired for supposedly telling Ethan valuable information about the study that got it kicked out of the hospital, but he allows her to stick around for now when he realizes that not only is she valuable, but that she is difficult to replace at a time when women were suppressed about sexuality.. The biggest events that happened here were her son getting suspended from school, Masters working out his arrangement with the brothel, Virginia finding a new babysitter, and also some movement in his relationship with his wife when he is forced to tell her about the study.
But, the truth is that this is real life. Not every event has something that is going to leave your jaw on the ground. This is not a show meant to shock you beyond the subject matter; instead, it’s about the little moments. Masters took another step towards making his study a success (albeit a small one), and that is what matters here. So long as the show continues to get the tiny things right, from the set design to Michael Sheen and Lizzie Caplan’s performances, then there is no reason to believe that we won’t be completely in awe when something big does happen.