49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2014
Masters of Sex is my favorite show of 2013. It's eye opening to be shown a time when women had very few rights and almost no one had a clue about their sexuality or their own bodies for that matter. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan are fantastic. Their chemistry is so palpable and their acting is top notch.
Speaking of top notch Allison Janney is absolutely heart breaking in her role as the provost's wife. She makes you ache for her. The sadness of her situation is deeply felt thanks to her incredible acting. She moved me to tears more then once. I loved her performance.
This show despite it's time frame is so relevant today. We owe a lot to the brave research of Masters and Johnson. Master's of Sex brings their lives and struggles to life in such a well done manner. I absolutely cannot wait for Season Two to begin!
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Let's just think about that word for a moment and what it means. To the world of today, sex seems to be just another word, because it pervades every part of our life; our literature, our news, our culture. in the world of this show though, set in the 1950's, sex was something that married people did merely to conceive a child, and no one EVER talked about it, much less studied it. However, when William Masters and Virginia Johnson started their pioneering work at Washington University, they were on the edge of a revolution that would change the way that couples all over the country regarded sex. And while this is the basis for Showtime's brilliant new drama MASTERS OF SEX, it's only part of what the show is actually about, which is one of the things that makes it so good.
Masters (the brilliant Michael Sheen) is one of the country's leading obstetricians, celebrated to his abilities to help couples conceive. He won't deny anyone his care. His brilliance also has led him to become incredibly arrogant and dismissive. His wife Libby (Caitlin Fitzgerald) is an intelligent, beautiful, and somewhat antiseptic woman who is proud of her husband but ashamed of herself in her inability to conceive for him, believing she's incapable of pregancy. Masters' young protege, Dr. Ethan Haas (Nicholas D'Agosto) is a amazing young surgeon who is looking for the right woman. Due to the nature of his work, Masters wants to begin an official study of sex and all its aspects with funding from the university, which goes right up against the grain of the medical school's provost, Barton Scully (Beau Bridges, in his best role in years). Enter Virginia Johnson (a phenomenal Lizzy Caplan), a former lounge singer with a deadbeat ex-husband and two young children who works in the secretarial pool at the university. She catches the eye of Haas with her beauty and modern attitudes and catches Masters with her out-of-the-box thinking in regards to his study. Suddenly, Masters has subjects that he can observe in the study, and Johnson is right there beside him, helping him gather more subjects and moving the research further. However, as their study intensifies, the other parts of their lives become more perfunctory.
Showrunner Michele Ashford, whose only previous recognizable work is being on the writing and producing staff of the HBO series THE PACIFIC, shows that she is more than capable of handling the multitude of characters and plotlines while making sure that all of them get their due. If the show were run with a different sensibility, though, it would be far easier to sell the show merely based on the steamier side of the premise, but while the show does have a steamy side, the sex of the show never seems gratuitous. MASTERS OF SEX prefers to stick with the characters, and leaving the characters propelling the plot forward instead of the other way around. And the performers playing these characters are all pretty much perfect. Sheen and Caplan are amazing as Masters and Johnson, and their chemistry together is so incredibly unforced that it seems like they've been working together for ages. Fitzgerald is another shining star of this show as Libby. The show never forces her character into a cliche, and she plays her with gravitas and melancholy. Another great supporting performance is Julianne Nicholson as Dr. Lillian DePaul, another obstetrician who is trying to make the same strides that Masters is in regards to female health, but being a woman in the 50's wasn't easy, and Nicholson again takes a character that could have been cliched and gives her a fully realized and three-dimensional performance. The brightest supporting stars of the show, though, turn out to be Bridges and Allison Janney, who plays his wife Vivian. The arc these characters have is possibly the most moving and honest of the show so far.
What also makes the show so unique and so great is how the female characters are so fully fleshed-out, which sadly is something that you don't see often in most forms of entertainment. It also marks another show in Showtime's repetoire with an incredible female lead, like Claire Danes in HOMELAND and Eva Green in PENNY DREADFUL. Caplan's performance deserves to be spoken of alongside the likes of Danes, Green, and ORPHAN BLACK's brilliant Tatiana Maslany.
From a writing and directing standpoint, the show fires on all cylinders. They never go for cheap and sleazy, but rather for introspection and examination. To be sure, there is a lot of sex on this show, but some of it is almost clinical in its observation when necessary, or is highly erotic and sensuous. There's also a good degree of humor to the show, but when the characters suffer and are at odds, you feel it as keenly as any great drama.
MASTERS OF SEX is easily one of the best new shows on television this year, and might even have been the very best, if this had also not been the year of TRUE DETECTIVE.
47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2014
Dr. William Masters wants to know what happens to the body during sex. To find out, he and his assistant, Virginia Johnson begin to observe anonymous couples and singles as they engage in various kinds of sex. But things get complicated when Masters and Johnson decide to participate in their own study.
Michael Sheen is dead on as the coldly serious William Masters. He deserves his Golden Globe nomination and if there is any justice should win. Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson exhibits a warmth unknown to her counterpart. They are opposites driven by a common goal. Caplan should have been nominated for a Golden Globe and should have won. How could she have been overlooked? For me, the Golden Globes have lost all credibility. Masters of Sex is easily the best dramatic series on television.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2014
Starts out with lots of promise. Sharp and mature - then it starts to drag. Like so many series it has at least 4 episodes of "fill"...I just lost interest.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2014
I was glued to my TV set during every episode. Superb character development and great acting by the lead characters as well as others in their supporting role. I was going to cancel my Showtime subscription until this series came along. It is always challenging to create a series based on actual events and the writers, actors and producers are to be commended for an excellent job. Will definitely buy the DVD as soon as it is available and cannot wait until Season 2.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2014
This is simply one of the best television programs I have ever watched. The cast and the acting are wonderful. The director, producers, videographers, sound technicians and, in fact, the entire crew, all deserve the highest praise for their work on this show.
The screen play is superb. The dialogue is so natural, compelling and smart. Of course in their lives these were all remarkable men and women living and working together.
A slice of life and a homage to the late fifties and the views regarding sex that were prevalent at that time in our country, the USA, and the world. Men and women who are younger than forty will find it difficult to believe how ignorant people were regarding sexual response in men and women.
Masters and Johnson's work woke America up, if one only took the time to read the findings of the original study that was eventually published in a format that non-medical professionals were able to read and understand.
Looking forward to season two of Masters of Sex.
PS - Highly recommend this Showtime production for mature teenagers (15 years and older).
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2014
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Masters of Sex is a well-written, engaging, and fascinating story of the groundbreaking researchers in human sexuality well-known to most of us by their surnames Masters and Johnson. Masters, played with cool and detached precision by Michael Sheen, is written as a brilliant ob-gyn, albeit arrogant, controlling, and manipulative when it comes to his career and his relationships. There are hints at dark areas in his upbringing, but otherwise, he walks a line between despicable and admirable. This is a tough sell for a lead character, but HBO did it with Al Swearengen in Deadwood, so I'm hoping for a similar character arc. Over the final few episodes of Season One, the writers thankfully fleshed Masters out beyond the rather unsavory and emotionally undeveloped person he'd been through the initial eight-to-ten episodes. If the show is to truly achieve greatness, they'll need to continue giving the audience a reason to emotionally invest in him.
Virginia Johnson, as played to perfection by Lizzy Caplan, is the more complete character; a free-thinking, sexually liberated, hard-working, single mother who moves quickly from the secretarial pool to Master's indispensable research partner. Johnson is far more open-minded than her female peers and a woman who eschews traditional female roles of the period. She leaves her children in a baby sitter's care most of the time, and is career-driven in a manner that won't become commonplace for at least another decade. Indeed, she serves as an ideal vehicle to address feminism; one of the social causes the show takes on (race relations and sexual preference being others). Taking full advantage of the period (the 1960s), the show rightfully places Masters & Johnsons' work alongside other powerful forces that made this era such a turbulent and transformative one in American history.
Veteran actors Beau Bridges and Allison Janney play the university provost husband and his wife, the former possessing a secret and the latter struggling with the consequences, and in the process shedding her innocence. They are both played brilliantly and provide the most fully-realized characters.
The downside is that the secondary characters aren't nearly as strong as the abovementioned quartet. Johnson's ne'er do well musician ex-husband and the young doctor who falls for her are both silly clichés (particularly the ex-husband), as are the quirky secretary/research volunteer, the embittered, man-hating doctor with a chip on her shoulder, the sex-crazed doctor who seems to get together with just about everyone on the show, and the AV geek who arrives near the season's midpoint. To be fair, in a twelve episode premier season, one can only adequately develop a few characters, so I look forward to seeing these others achieve their potential. An oddity is Masters' wife, played well by Caitlin Fitzgerald, but written with frustrating inconsistency. She is tentative and uncertain about what she wants out of life, and even an overly-simplistic moment of candor with her mother-in-law (another stock character) sheds little light on what's in her heart and soul. There are moments when I think a big revelation is coming, but it never materializes. Perhaps this is intentional, but either way, I find her lightweight and uninteresting.
Like another recent Showtime drama Penny Dreadful, they share the problem of two-dimensional characters and unnecessary clichés. Yet both shows have enough strength and a huge upside to make me very excited about season two. Many great series take a season or two to fully blossom and I'm confident Masters of Sex (and Penny Dreadful) will only get better.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2014
It took a few episodes to get sucked in, but it's a great show once you get into it. My husband on the other hand was pretty bored with it, it didn't suck him in or hold his attention. It is a slow moving show.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2014
As soon as I heard about this show, and saw a commercial, I couldn't wait for the moment it posted on Amazon Instant Video (since I don't have Showtime), and it was worth the wait. Every episode is exhilarating to watch, the characters have such a deep, rich story surrounding them (which I hope just reaches deeper as the seasons progress), and I enjoy every character. Every. single. one. Which is very rare for any show to convince me to like every character.
As an educated women, I still have learned vast amounts of information (especially about sex) while watching this show, and I now feel that my commitment will lead to reading all of the writings of Masters & Johnson. It is never to late to improve an already vibrant sex life, and this show really commits to the data of too much information about sexual intercourse is still not enough. The more, the better, and the better the information the more incredible the progress.
I have not enjoyed any show (and I watch many) as much as this one, and feel that it was worth every penny to watch instantly, and I am already prepared to order the dvd to share with as many family members and friends possible who I hope enjoy this as much as I have. Since I am only in episode 8 at this moment, I will end my review at this time. But, if in doubt about this show, I have found everything sexual to be presented very tastefully, and seemingly pro-woman throughout. It is well scripted, excellently filmed, and has such a strong female lead (actress playing Johnson) that I feel even more connected to watching this series than any other favorite show with a strong female character (ex. The Good Wife, Gilmore Girls, Sex & the City, Game of Thrones, etc.).