The show depicts the lives of sex therapists Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who are brilliantly portrayed by Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. The real William Masters was an esteemed fertility doctor; Virginia Johnson, a divorced mother of two and former night club singer without a science degree. Initially, Mrs. Johnson was hired as Dr. Master's secretary.
They began their sex studies in the 1950s when such research was considered smut, not science. It's not easy being pioneers in a field with controversy and misconceptions galore, and it requires brains, ambition, panache and an unrelenting tenacity to succeed. Each of the groundbreakers had qualities (i.e. strengths) the other lacked. First Masters and Johnson needed to set up a sex lab at the hospital where they worked; then they needed more autonomy so they moved their study to independent offices, therefore they needed backers with deep pockets; and still later, they needed to get published for their work to be taken seriously, not to mention, reach the ears of scientific grand poobahs and the public ... all of which took personal sacrifices and years of their lives.
Masters of Sex is one of the best written shows airing. It's a rich story. The characters are real and multi-layered, sometimes flawed, but not irredeemable or destructive. You understand what motivates them. There are no throw away characters on the show. You are interested in the entire cast of lead and supporting characters. There is not one person, who I haven't felt sympathy for at one time or another.
It gets complicated too. Smart people aren't always smart, and moral people fall short. Sometimes ignorance, ambition, ego, insecurity, politics or the times get in the way. The scripts are beyond good; they are sophisticated with slice of life insights.
Overall, it's an upbeat show. But at times people make compromises ... to get ahead ... to get along ... to get the job done.
And yes, there is plenty of sex to watch. But, none of it is gratuitous. Um, let's just anoint the show's talented cast as the bravest actors on TV. They do not flinch. Television viewers experience the venerability ... and get into the hearts and minds of all the characters. We root for them; and sometimes, ache for them.
What a quality show. There will be a season three.
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