|Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan play pioneering researchers in human sexuality, Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson.|
I had the opportunity to see the cast of 'Masters of Sex' a show which premiered on ever the envelope-pushing network; Showtime in September of 2013. Aptly named after its subject, sex doctor and pioneer extraordinaire Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen). Sheen and his co-stars including the wild-card Lizzy Caplan, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Annaleigh Ashford, and Teddy Sears rounded out the panel at PaleyFest to talk about this naughty caprice which has won accolades, awards, and critic's praises if not the best ratings.
|Masters and Johnson pay close attention to their many experiments.|
Here's the thing though, it's a story no one really knows or talks about, and one that desperately needs to be. It is ripe for dramatization, and considering the executive producers are women they definitely approached a very dangerous and taboo subject with the utmost finesse to get it past the television censors, although at this point, Showtime allows pretty much anything.
The cast talked with gusto about how much fun it was not just to play dress up but to inhabit these ferocious characters at the forefront of new discoveries when birth control was only an idea, orgasms were a myth, and the only position acceptable to any was missionary. Dr. William Masters (Sheen) and his assistant and future wife Virginia Johnson (Caplan) worked tirelessly in order to discover what this whole 'sex' thing was actually about. Particularly, what was this phenom we call the orgasm and what does it mean to...science. They would have people come to their offices and masturbate with basically the first patent dildo ever in existence, well...first vibrator, lets be fair the dildo dates back to ancient Rome. After which the study progressed to couples therapy where they utilized couples to test attraction, chemistry, and all that other crap in how it affects the sex part, you know, the part we're all waiting for and have on our minds the entire time. Basically without these two trailblazers, we would have never had the knowledge we have today. Forget the Kinsey scale, these two scientists took it way further than just 'how does this make you feel where you bathing suit covers?'.
|The real Dr. William Masters and his colleague turned wife, Virginia Johnson|
And keep in mind, this was the 50's, you can only imagine how many obstacles and animosity the two had to face. But the biggest obstacle was of course; working with each other on scandalous material, watching people fuck basically everyday, and everyday talking about sex without having it with each other. Well, as I've already told you, and not given anything away because if you know the story, they did eventually get married, so I'm sure they basically...turned their own experiments on themselves, to use delicate terms. We owe all of our orgasms to them basically. They taught us not only the best means of achieving them, but why it is we need them so goddamn badly.
|A favorite patient of theirs utilizing a vibrator that they basically created. So you have that to thank them for, ladies.|
The show itself is just immaculately executed (no pun intended). It has superb actors, a lot of them cast against-type and unlike shows like 'Mad Men', puts the aesthetic of the times in the background so that it can focus solely on the story. Argue all you want; the 'times' that 'Mad Men' is set in is a character on that show unto itself. I'm not saying it's better, I'm just saying the two are completely incomparable. Just because they take place in similar times does not mean they are alike in any way. This is more of a historical record peppered with light sex-comedy but mostly wildly astute about its observations regarding the sexual and cerebral relationships between men and women, men and men, women and women, everybody basically. They were able, through science to draw conclusions way ahead of their time in how sex relates to basically every primal and emotional cog in our psyche. They are about human beings and the very thing that makes us human and separates us from animals...our ability to feel, to love, and to make love to each other without the purpose of procreation, but with the intended purpose of giving and receiving pleasure. And yes, there's a lot of gratuitous sex on the show, I mean, it's in the title, so grab a box of donuts and start watching. It's respectable, reputable T.V. that you can go ahead and masturbate to. I won't judge.
Promo below (sorry I could only get a link to the youtube page for it) but seriously do some work once in a while and click below :P