“Doing it behind the glass” – Masters of Sex Recap – Topeka

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source: itsthe60sbaby.tumblr.com

Masters of Sex Season 4, Episode 8
“Topeka”
Posted by Kim

Okay, I have a serious question for the Bill and Virginia shippers. Are you satisfied with how Bill and Virginia ended up back in bed together? If you are, PLEASE, I beg you, tell me why you are because I feel like I’m watching a completely different show and the show I am watching makes me feel gross.

I realize I’m jumping to the end of the episode at the top of this recap but I can’t NOT talk about this. I know Masters of Sex isn’t a show where grand romantic gestures happen and Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson are certainly not the type of couple to have a fairy tale ending. Lest we forget, in actuality, their marriage ended in divorce. (Let me go back to the grand gesture thing for a moment because I surely can’t be the only one who remembers a rain-soaked Bill showing up on Virginia’s doorstep declaring that he can’t be without her, can I?) Because this show is based on real people, we have always known that Bill and Virginia would fall back together eventually. We just didn’t know HOW. I am not sure what I expected in regards to how the first post-Dan, post-Libby, Jesus they are both single now and it’s not illicit sexual encounter between Bill and Virginia to play out but it certainly wasn’t a “roleplaying in a rival clinic” scenario that tiptoed RIGHT up to the line of being a consent issue. Yep. I said it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

At the end of the last episode, Bill and Gini picked out a few clinics that were stealing their methods that they would investigate separately. Road block/easy plot device alert: Guy discovers that these clinics will only admit married couples, forcing Bill and Gini to either send Art and Nancy to do it or they have to pretend they are a married couple and do it themselves. (Ordinarily, this would be the beginning of my FAVORITE fan fic trope but alas this just caused me to roll my eyes.) Bill, knowing that Dody is there, oh so casually says they should just go to Topeka together and leave Art and Nancy in charge while they are gone. Bill and Gini tell their partners to take care of the Clavermore case (and Gini makes a way too late apology to Nancy regarding spilling the beans about Art’s unhappiness) and it’s off to Topeka they go. As soon as they are out the door, Nancy turns to Art and Guy with a look of triumph on her face. “Put on some music. Let’s dance.” While the cat’s away…

In the car, Gini and Bill banter about their assumed identities (“I’ve always liked the name Earl. Earls are good guys.”) and what their fake sexual crisis should be (“I think you should be frigid.” BILL.) Eventually, they decide to just follow the Clavermore case file because who cares about Doctor/Patient confidentiality when there are phony clinics to catch?

The Topeka clinic is just as I expected it to be: a real pseudo-homey joint run by Harvey and Marcia, who come off as your cool hippie aunt and uncle who teach you about sex when you are too afraid to ask your parents about it. They have Bill and Virginia Earl and Ingrid sit low to the ground on cushiony stools and they all do the intake session around a coffee table. To the surprise of no one, the intake session is a near word-perfect replica of the Masters and Johnson technique. Also to the surprise of no one, the intake session starts to hit a little too close to home as Harvey and Marcia prove they are not exactly the quacks they appeared to be and the lines between Earl and Ingrid and Bill and Virginia begin to blur. Harvey links Earl’s sexual issues with shame, saying “Shame’s a powerful inhibitor not just to sexual health, but to true intimacy.” At first, Earl/Bill scoffs at ever having felt shame in the marriage before but Marcia pushes, asking if he’s ever felt shame in being unable to please Ingrid, if he’s ever come too fast or had trouble getting hard. WELP. Suddenly season 2’s struggle with impotence comes roaring back and things get VERY awkward because the shame and anger Bill felt back then was very real.



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Gini/Ingrid breaks into say that their sex life has always been satisfying and that they’ve always been open with each other, which surprises Harvey and Marcia, especially when they rattle off various kinks that they’ve suggested couples try. “How lucky you are to have found each other,” they marvel. Me, I’m like “LOOK HOW PREDICTABLE THEIR OWN INTAKE METHOD IS WORKING ON THEM.” I mean, let’s be real, Bill and Virginia were due for couples counseling about 5 years ago. But I’m annoyed because it’s them but it’s NOT them at the same time. This is not Bill and Virginia asking for help and because it’s not, it feels so cheap to me. Then Harvey and Marcia drop the hammer, saying that a sexual connection of this kind often springs out of something like an affair. BLAMMO. At least Bill and Virginia know their method works? “Maybe on some subconscious level, you’ve decided that you’re undeserving of pleasure, of a satisfactory resolution, of a happily ever after. Literally undeserving of finishing what you started.” OH REALLY IS THIS WHERE WE ARE GOING? That Bill’s been afraid of being happy with Virginia because he’s punishing himself? Gross. It’s gross because it’s such an over simplification of the relationship. It’s gross because it completely negates the work Bill has done as a person this season and HONESTLY it takes any of the onus off Virginia and her choices WHICH IS WRONG. WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS.



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Back at the clinic, Nancy’s true colors are finally showing. After doing the intake, Nancy gives Mr. Clavermore a tour or the clinic, answering his very specific questions about the space.  It’s clear that he’s interested in more than fixing his sex life and Nancy is picking up EXACTLY what he’s laying down. Clavermore says that if they are doing this kind of business in St. Louis, then IMAGINE what they could do in a city like New York. Nancy’s eyes LITERALLY gleam as she tells him that Bill and Virginia are investigating clinics stealing their methods. “I just I keep saying to Art, “Shouldn’t it be us opening one?” After all, we’ve been properly trained and endorsed by Masters and Johnson themselves.” Yep. Nancy is a snake and Art looks like he wants to vomit. They make dinner plans with the Clavermores where Nancy continues to sell the idea of her and Art opening a clinic in New York, much to Art’s consternation. “You have to admit that we have been treated terribly at this clinic. Our talents have been overlooked and undermined by a lounge singer with a degree in typing.” I mean…she’s not lying. Bill has made best efforts to make Art and Nancy feel welcome but Gini has been fighting and undermining Nancy from the get go. It’s no surprise that Art wants to stay…he hasn’t had the same experience as her at the clinic. He’s been included and taken seriously. Nancy has EVERY RIGHT to be unhappy professionally, so why are the writers making the undercurrent of this whole thing be reflective of Art and Nancy being at odds over their sexual relationship? Because you can’t tell me that Art’s “We’re not liars or thieves. I’m not anyway” comment didn’t have any sort of pointed meaning. It VERY much did.

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“Someone always ends up crying.” – Masters of Sex Recap – Family Only

Masters of Sex Season 4, Episode 6
“Family Only”
Posted by Kim

STOP KILLING LESBIAN CHARACTERS FOR DRAMATIC EFFECT 2K16.

In the moments after the final credits rolled on “Family Only,” my initial thought was the good old chestnut, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.” But you know what? Fuck that. I AM mad and I AM disappointed. Because Betty and Helen deserved more than this. And I expected more of Masters of Sex than cheap ass storytelling.

Why was it cheap storytelling? Because it was telegraphed, down to the fucking episode title. As soon as Barton and Bill assured Betty that she shouldn’t worry that Helen’s water breaking was extra bloody and that c-sections are so routine that you could do two before lunch, you KNEW that Helen was doomed. If your audience knows how this story is going to end 21 minutes into the episode, it’s cheap and lazy storytelling.

I get that Masters of Sex is a period piece and that this is exactly how Betty’s story would have unfolded in real life. Same-sex partners had no rights in the eyes of the law in the 70s and the baby WOULD have gone to the grandparents and not Helen’s partner, who was going to raise the baby as her own flesh and blood. I get that. What I don’t get is how the creative team of Masters of Sex decided that this was the most interesting story to tell. It’s not. You know what would have been interesting? Seeing Betty and Helen trying to navigate raising a family together in the face of overwhelming bigotry. What would have been interesting is seeing them struggle but stand firm in their love for each other and for the baby they wanted to raise together. What would have been interesting is seeing the people who believed in them, like Bill and Virginia and Barton, surround them with love and understanding. Seeing Betty lose not only her partner but the child she so desperately longed for in one fell swoop? THAT’S NOT INTERESTING. And the fact that it was all crammed into the last five minutes of what was otherwise a cracking good episode of television? That, my friends, is what we call a sucker punch. And what are sucker punches? CHEAP SHOTS.

What pisses me off the most about this whole debacle is that it makes it harder for me to appreciate how GOOD the actors were in it. Annaleigh Ashford has long been the MVP of Masters of Sex and she DELIVERED in this episode. She expressed Betty’s joy and fear and grief so perfectly and she did it all with her face wiped clean of Betty’s usual mod make-up. She was a pillar of support as Helen dealt with the pain of her parents’ disownment. She was a fierce Mama Bear as she fought for Helen’s medical treatment and expressed her fears about her condition. She was incredibly selfless in calling Helen’s parents at great personal risk to herself because she knew that was what her partner wanted. She was incredibly gentle as it became clear that Helen was circling the drain and she didn’t want her to panic or be afraid. And she was beautifully numb when Helen’s parents shut her out of the nursery declaring it was for family only. (God, at LEAST have the nerve to say it to her face.) Ashford was EVERYTHING in this episode. She deserves a meaty storyline because she is capable of delivering but again I go back to “WHY THIS STORY?”. It all around sucks and I’m angry and disappointed. We all deserve better than this.

WHY

WHY

I guess other things happened in this episode too. Like I said, I’m having a hard time caring, but I’ll try.

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