Showtime’s Masters of Sex (created by Michelle Ashford) is, in my opinion, an attempt at creating another Mad Men and appealing to a similar audience (I’ve watched the first two seasons). Set in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, we have another show with fantastic period detail, great style and gorgeous cinematography. We also have great acting, especially from the two leads, Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, and regular guest star Beau Bridges.
Sheen and Caplan play William Masters and Virginia Johnson, pioneers in the study of sex (yes, this is based on true events). As one can imagine, their initial investigations were met with a lot of hostility from the medical and scientific communities and their courage and tenacity in continuing their work in the face of this hostility is central to the show. It’s a fascinating premise and Masters of Sex is intelligent, well-written and very well-made television. It’s also critically-acclaimed and popular.
But (hope you could tell that was coming), despite all its wonderful attributes, Masters of Sex is missing something, at least for me. Unlike with Mad Men, where I couldn’t wait to watch the next episode, I have at times struggled to continue watching Masters of Sex at all, sometimes taking a break for weeks at a time. Yes, some of the episodes are fantastic and easily deserve ****, but others more or less bored me in a way that Mad Men never did. It’s just not compelling in the way I expect serial television of this calibre to be. So I can only give Masters of Sex ***+. My mug is up and I do recommend you try it out, if the subject matter (which is treated quite explicitly) is not offensive to you.