Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Masters Of Sex

One of my new favorite American television drama series is called Masters of Sex. This show was developed by Michelle Ashford and based on Thomas Maier's biography Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How To Love. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan star as the lead characters, Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, two pioneering researchers of human sexuality at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The series tells the real story of Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson and was picked up for a first season consisting of 12 episodes. September 29,  2013 was the premier date  for the show but, with great ratings for the pilot October 22, 2013 Showtime renewed Masters of Sex for a second season for 2014.

This show is based on the real life Dr. Masters and Virginia. It's exciting to know how much the show has differed from the original story. Some characters like Barton Scully was a combination of several men whom Masters knew. One of them gay, but it was not the same man serving as provost during Master's initial study. Writer/producer Michelle Ashford also serves as a showrunner for Masters of Sex. Because of the time period Ashford has it set in the prop masters Jeffery Johnson had an extremely difficult job in creating and finding the sexual devices from that time period. He was able to obtain some vintage vibrators and dildos for use in the series along with acquiring condoms manufactured in the era. He designed "Ulysses," a transparent dildo with attached camera first seen in the pilot episode, from scratch,  along with a diaphragm sizing kit seen in later episodes. As I watched I remember how sex was such a "taboo" idea to talk about. The release of this show in a time period where sex is something that is more open to talk about allows the audience to fully be intrigued with the content of the show and realize the irony of the time period then and now.

The first season of Master of Sex has received acclaim from critics. Based on 48 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the first season received a 90% approval rating from critics, with a rating average of 8.4 out of 10. The sites consensus: Seductive and nuanced, Masters of Sex features smart performances, deft direction, and impeccable period decor." Metacritic gave the first season a score of 85/100, based on 32 reviews. Matt Roush of TV Guide wrote that "There is no more facinating, or entertaining, news series this fall season." Diane Werts of Newsday gave it an "A" grade, complimenting the series on its use of humor, stating "its deft balance of epic scope and whimsical humanity", as well as the strong performances of the actors and creator Michelle Ashford's "scene-setting scripts". David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle particularly praises the performances, calling them "extraordinary" and "stunning", and noting the series' A-list directors such as Michael Apted and John Madden. Hank Stuever of the The Washington Post wrote that after two episodes, "the character get better and more complex, the story builds, strange things start to happen and now I can't wait to see how its interweaving plots unfold. Alan Sepinwall of HitFix praised lead actors Michael Sheen and Lizzy long stretch. It's also a refreshing anomaly: a prestige cable drama that doesn't fee; like a recombination of elements from 15 shows that came before it.

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