9 episodes in, and I’ve decided that, as far as ethan haas goes, MASTERS OF SEX just doesn’t know what to do with him. his arc has been all over the damn place, especially since he got involved with vivian scully, and the conversion to catholicism subplot is just absurd. I’m realizing that if this show has one flaw, it’s secondary characters: ethan haas, austin langham, vivian scully, even barton scully… it seems like they all (okay, not barton) just are whatever the show wants them to be on a particular day; there’s no consistency to their characters at all. jane martin works because we only ever see her in the context of the study; if she was given her own storyline outside of it, like austin is, I’m sure she’d suffer the same fate.
the masters/johnson stuff is so good, though, that it’s hard to care too much. (and I ~love lillian depaul.) it’s too bad that the show is apparently incapable of writing supporting characters with the same exquisite nuance and complexity of its leads.
who, it must be said, are ~perfectly cast and giving absolutely beautiful performances. I love a good will they/won’t they dynamic as much as the next person, but the genius of this particular iteration is how it changes the definition of “will.” bill and virginia have crossed the “sleeping together” line, but they draw all kinds of other lines in its place, and the tension of their relationship is watching them cross those lines, then draw new ones, continually defining and redefining boundaries… imagine them kissing, for example, which at this point we’ve never seen. imagine them having sex ~not wired up to a dozen electrodes, ~not in room 5.
and meanwhile, bill is stepping over other lines in all kinds of ways: interfering with virginia’s education behind her back, figuring out her ex-husband’s identity and quizzing him about what virginia’s like in bed, playing back the footage of her masturbating alone in his office at night… maybe it’s michael sheen’s ineffably lovely performance that makes masters, to me, a deeply sympathetic character, even after all this. just look at his eyes as he watches that footage. he loves virginia—and yes, it’s a deceitful, sometimes manipulative, sometimes paternalistic love, but it’s also a love born of mutual passion for the work they’re doing and profound respect for her. as virginia’s daughter puts it—he sees her. really sees her.
but, even though he acknowledges it in her performance review, I’m not sure he understands just how much he needs her. or maybe he does—and that’s why he tried to give her that money at the end of “involuntary.” he’s scared of how invaluable she’s become to him. I think, from the stupid spoilery iTunes descriptions, that she leaves him later this season. the show already did a mini version of this “don’t know what you got til it’s gone” arc when masters fired her early on—but clearly, given how shitty he still behaves towards her sometimes, the lesson hasn’t quite sunk in.
so, essentially? my OTP is bill masters/the first vaginal contractions ever captured on film. but bill/virginia comes a close second
the series of scenes in “brave new world” that begins with lillian depaul accusing johnson of misrepresenting herself as a doctor and culminates in masters & johnson finally wiring themselves up and climbing into bed together is some of the best TV—heck, the best storytelling, TV or otherwise—I’ve ever seen
this show is so subtle, so understated, that its absolute brilliance sneaks up on you. but, in its own modest way, it could hold its own against anything on television right now. I’ve been watching a lot of current shows lately, and… I’m not sure I dare make the argument that MASTERS OF SEX is better than TRUE DETECTIVE, but let’s put it this way. I sure as hell prefer it.
okay while we’re on the subject of MASTERS OF SEX, I have ~no idea what to make of ethan haas and it’s really stressing me out? in the very first episode he hauls off and slaps virginia on the face for not being in love with him after she was perfectly clear that she wanted to be FWB only. so—asshole, right? and then he keeps pursuing her, insisting that she is the ~girl for him~ even after libby gently suggests that maybe she, um, isn’t? because, um, PSA, someone who doesn’t want to be with you is never ~the one for you? and then he does a bunch of other asshole-y things: performing surgery while drunk, going behind masters’ back about the quintuplets, “deflowering” the provost’s daughter so painfully that it makes her cry, spitting “fuck you” at virginia when she and her children won’t accept a ride home from him because he’s blind drunk
okay. I know exactly what I make of ethan haas. he’s an arrogant, entitled, childish asshole. but I’m not sure what the show makes of him. I honestly don’t know whether it considers him a sympathetic character or not. I watched episode 5 (of season 1) last night, which ended with virginia agreeing to let him spend time w/ her son, and like… she has done such a good job of setting boundaries and respecting them, evading or standing up to him at every turn, and I’m so afraid the show’s going to compromise the integrity of her character by making her like ~give in~ to him.
I guess the fact that I’m worrying about this is a testament to what a wonderful creation she is. we need 1000x more female characters like her in every medium. I absolutely love the scene in which masters plays back the recording of her ex-husband describing her… “she knows what she wants. she’ll tell you… this woman is magic.” that voiceover, of course, plays while virginia’s running to catch her bus, missing it, and slumping onto the bus stop bench in defeat. this woman is so strong in her self-knowledge—but she doesn’t have her shit completely together, either. the interplay of those qualities gives rise to one of the most compelling female characters I’ve seen on TV in a long time.
I just hope the show knows what a good thing it has going for it in her. and that it doesn’t force her to compromise herself for no good reason. but I’m pretty confident it does—and that it won’t.
I didn’t miss a day when I did 500 words per in April and I wanted to be equally as disciplined in August but yesterday I was just nooooot feeling my ~novel~ at all plus I was working on a sketch of a comic that I was really excited about so I just let the comic count for my 500 words…
and lo and behold I woke up this morning excited about the novel again :)
takeaway: discipline is great, but rigidity isn’t! it’s important to know when to give yourself a break.
in other news: I am quietly obsessed with MASTERS OF SEX, new Murakami arrived yesterday and for some reason I am super reluctant to start it, I read “A Halo of Flies” last night before going to sleep and had a terrifying dream that disembodied Arcane was hovering over my bed
Jumping from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm is the big secret of success.
Pioneering physicist Savas Dimopoulos in Particle Fever, the excellent documentary about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson – a tenacity that characterized some of the greatest achievers and innovators in history.
Pair with Pixar’s cofounder on the importance of fostering a fail-forward culture.
500 words a day again in august! I started three days’ late but wrote three days’ worth to make up for it. I am trying not to get ahead of myself but finally, almost 150 pages in, some of what’s on the page is starting, starting, to resemble what’s in my head, and it’s the most exciting thing in the world.