Posted by Kim
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Am I the only one who burst out laughing when Masters of Sex used Bill reading How to Win Friends and Influence People as a connecting theme of the episode? Bill is a brilliant scientist but he’s always had trouble with the human side of his business (outside of his patients, that is, because his bedside manner is killer). It’s why he and Virginia work so well together because she humanizes him. It’s not that Bill doesn’t care…because he DOES. Out of all the characters, I would argue that Bill actually cares the MOST, he’s just so emotionally stunted that he doesn’t know how to express himself…especially to Virginia. He and Virginia have always connected the most through sex. And now that sex has been taken out of the equation for the time being (WHERE IS THE SEX AND WHEN CAN IT COME BACK?), Bill’s attempts to connect with her are incredibly endearing, if a bit misguided and poorly timed. Yes, he’s trying, and it’s wonderful, but it’s not what she needs at this time. Virginia doesn’t need material gifts, she needs someone to just be there for her and to help her feel that she’s not drowning or completely failing at life. I’m getting ahead of myself.
“In a nutshell, there are six ways to make people like you. PRINCIPLE 1: Become genuinely interested in other people. PRINCIPLE 2: Smile. PRINCIPLE 3: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. PRINCIPLE 4: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. PRINCIPLE 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. PRINCIPLE 6: Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Bill wasn’t just reading How to Win Friends… for the hell of it. He was hiding in a bookstore, watching customers ponder buying Human Sexual Response. (I would totally do this too, which is why I should never publish a book because obsessing over sales would take over my life.) The initial craze over the book has settled down and sales have slowed. The book has moved from a display in the front window to the back of the reference section. The publisher isn’t planning to do a second printing, satisfied that the market has been saturated and there is no further interest. Naturally, Bill panics about this because he can’t have his life’s work spent on one measly printing. “I have a sense the book is gaining momentum,” he pleads, grasping at straws. “Many of them are simply embarrassed to be seen buying it.” (I wonder what Bill would think about e-books and Fifty Shades of Grey.) Their publisher says that the only way they can get a second edition is if they take their show on the road and do a book tour. Bill immediately says yes, while Virginia balks. Bill, who has such a singular focus and could give a shit about his family, can’t understand WHY Virginia would say no. He can’t see beyond his own endgame and he can’t see that Virginia is drowning trying to be everything for everyone. She has an infant. She has Tessa, who continues to be the worst, this week getting suspended from school and rolling eyes at having to come into the office with her mother. The straw that breaks Virginia’s back is her worry over Henry in Vietnam. It’s not enough that her son is halfway around the globe, the fact that he is sick and she’s not there to care for him is too much. She immediately goes to the worst possible places when he mentions his illness and she’s unable to do anything else until she knows her son is okay. Bill TRIES to help by offering cold hard facts and dismissing her worries by saying that his symptoms could be ANYTHING. What she really needs in the moment is for someone to HEAR her worries and offer ways to help her…which is where Dan Logan and all his dreaminess comes in.
On the surface, Dan Logan is a smarmy bastard with the depth of a thimble. He has a harem of assistants (a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead, natch) and he carries himself with a cocksure attitude spouting innuendo after innuendo. He looks at Virginia as if he is salivating with the need to ravish her (seriously, Josh Charles, what are you doing to me?). Virginia is not unaware of this, writing off all his overtures as the “Dan Logan Charm”. But what he does for her that Bill DOESN’T is he listens to her desperation (because certain decibel levels DO travel after all). A former soldier himself, Dan reads Henry’s letter with the eyes of someone whose been there. He offers Virginia platitudes of “medical discharge” and offers to use his influence to make some calls to get Virginia some answers. His motivations are completely genuine too. “I wish there had been someone to help my mother when I was overseas,” he says simply. Virginia…if you don’t want him, I’ll take him.
“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Dan goes with Virginia to the army office as a show of support. It’s there that he reveals that Virginia reminds him of a woman he had a love affair with during the war before going home to his wife. It’s in that moment where we see Virginia hysterically laughing on the inside. “Did you love her?” she asks. “Very much.” “Then how does a man just walk away back to his fiance?” she asks incredulously. “Wife,” Dan corrects. Ladies and Gentlemen, Virginia Johnson has a type and it is unavailable men.
Also, Henry was sick from alcohol poisoning. Just in case Virginia needed something else to feel like a failure about.
In the end, it is Betty who gets through to Bill in regards to Virginia. She recognizes EXACTLY what he’s doing (“I know that book by heart. It has come in handy many times dealing with you.”) and she gently steers him in the right direction. It’s not about why Virginia should do the book tour…it’s why she shouldn’t. (Bill’s quiet “Virginia’s babysitter drinks?” destroyed me.) Betty quotes Carnegie saying “People are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them and they will love you.” That’s all Virginia wants and needs from him.
“I’ve realized that this gift – the coat, I mean – was a surprise to you, and an odd gesture, from me anyway, for being the kind of thing a man buys for his wife. Um, to be honest, I-I-I was reading this silly book. A huge best seller, of course, an advice book that goes about as deep as a thimble. Um, you can’t believe the things that go on the bookshelves these — um, all that aside, I meant what I said. None of our success would’ve happened without you. So why shouldn’t you wear something that makes you feel good?”
And then he freaking asks her to dinner. An actual date. The look on Virginia’s face is STILL unreadable, but this time it’s different. There’s barely restrained delight, there’s fear and trepidation that they are going further and further past the point of no return, and there’s gratitude. Lizzy Caplan is giving a masterclass, you guys.
- Did I forget to mention that National Treasure Allison Janney returned this week as Margaret Scully? Did I forget to mention that her first scene involved being pleasured by Joshua from Friends? Well, that happened.
- Margaret and her new beau Graham are the patients of the week because Margaret has gone from one sexual extreme to the other. Barton barely touched her for 30 years, while Graham has a problem with premature ejaculation. (RECAPPING THIS SHOW IS FUN.)
- In her interview with Virginia, Margaret expresses how she longs for sex to be a spiritual experience and she wants them to be able to come together, looking into each other’s eyes. (That only happens in movies, darling.) Graham, on the other hand, hates talking about their sex life, saying “the only thing that matters is right now.” Side note: I hate him.
- Margaret took great pains to come into the clinic on Barton’s day off, but her plan was foiled when Barton came in for an off the books appointment with Libby. The encounter is just as awkward as any encounter with an ex should be. The thing that is awful about Barton and Margaret is that the marriage did not end with animosity. Had Margaret not decided to own her right to a sex life, they would have stayed together forever. While they aren’t married anymore, there is still a deep love there, as Margaret immediately starts fretting about how thin he’s gotten.
- Margaret took the fall in the divorce to protect Vivian from learning the truth about her father’s homosexuality. It destroyed the relationship. She also hasn’t been able to tell Graham that her ex-husband’s sexuality which is problematic because she now uses sex as a means of defining love. “I need him to see me. MY body.” My heart breaks.
- “How long should we wait to address our sexual issues, Barton? 30 years?” I love Margaret with a backbone.
- Margaret discovers that Barton has a lady friend who fills his fridge with meals. She begs Barton to come clean to her. “This woman she deserves to know the truth and know what kind of future she can expect.” I love that she immediately thought of what this woman deserves because SHE knows she deserves a sex life now. “You’re asking too much,” he replies. These two are SO SAD.
- Later, Judith comes to Barton with plans to spend the night. (“I left a little extra food for the cat.” = do me please.) For a split second, it seems like Barton is going to come clean but he instead lies and says he can’t have sex because he’s on blood pressure medication. Sigh.
- Meanwhile, Margaret waltzes into Graham’s bedroom sporting a sexy new nightie and finds him in bed with another woman. “Did I get the wrong night?” she asks. That’s right. She and Graham are swingers. I can’t imagine she is REMOTELY okay with this, as I imagine we’ll see in the next episode.
- Libby is completely stranded in this storyline with Paul and Joy. Joy is essentially a vegetable, alive, but unable to communicate and bound to a wheelchair. To think, she was once the best goddamn dancer at the American Ballet Academy. (Too soon?) I’m not quite sure why they are still around after the whole “Joy has an aneurysm right before she decides to leave her husband” twist except for using Joy as a device to further illustrate how trapped Libby feels. “For you to just write her off like that is criminal. You have to remember and honor who she is!” Libby could just as easily be speaking about herself. (Real subtle, show.) I’m going to need Masters to get where they are going with this story faster because Caitlin Fitzgerald is too good to be stuck here.
- Okay, I thought it was obvious to everyone in both families that Bill and Virginia were a couple. Apparently not, since Tessa only now put two and two together when she discovered Bill’s aftershave in the bathroom and in his desk at work. Must make that whole attempted seduction at the lake WAY GROSS now.
- Tessa is still giving Letterman’s Jacket BJs in his car, but she is much more dead eyed about it now. None of this is going to end well.
- “Being an Aquarius…” Virginia’s shade at one of Dan’s “backup singers” throwing herself at Bill was everything. Plus, it was nice seeing HER get a little territorial for once.
- I’m going to need Michael Sheen to voice an audiobook AS Bill Masters, please and thank you.
- Fashion Envy Moments of the Week: Virginia’s red and black ensemble. Betty’s gold plaid dress with the statement brooch.
- Speaking of Betty, she was on FIRE with the one-liners this week. “I hear a phone ringing. Somewhere. Not here.”
- “You know what a soldier does? He gets through the day.” I immediately thought of Danny Pink and the Twelfth Doctor in this scene and I am not even sorry.
- Bill taking the time to thank the salesgirl for her assistance in buying the coat was precious. He’s trying so hard!
That’s it for this week. Sage will be your guide through the next episode where Margaret Scully hopefully finds eternal happiness and Bill and Virginia FINALLY do it this season (a girl can dream). Until then, leave your thoughts on Josh Charles in the comments.