Masters of Sex, Channel 4 - TV review
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Wednesday 18 December 2013
Masters of Sex just picked up two Golden Globe nominations including a Best Actor for Michael Sheen, as the pioneering sexologist Dr William Masters. No recognition for his co-star Lizzie Caplan, however. She works just as hard as her male counterpart, in pursuit of their shared professional goals and what does she get? Nothing. But then having played Virginia Johnson, Dr Masters' overshadowed assistant for a whole two series, she's used to that.
Last night the first series of Masters of Sex came to an end on Channel 4 and although no mid-century-set American drama can escape the shadow of Mad Men, this has steadily evolved into a quality series. The context of 1950s sexual repression provides lots of material for any decent actor to get stuck into and Masters of Sex had plenty of those. Allison Janney and Beau Bridges as the unhappily married Barton and Margaret Scully have been particularly compelling, and in fact they were the only thing missing from an otherwise flawless penultimate episode.
It included a phantom Virginia appearing to Masters as his inner critic, Dr DePaul raising some interesting questions about female solidarity and a lovely version of the Ray Charles hit "You Don't Know Me" sung by Lizzie Caplan.
If only they'd ended the series here, audiences might have had a haunting image or two to hold on to during the long wait for series two. Instead, there was also the much less elegant final episode "Manhigh", which culminated in a rather clichéd romantic cliffhanger: Masters turned up on Virginia's doorstep in the pouring rain to confess his true feelings. He's all right, but he's no Don Draper, is he?
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