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Customer Review

48 of 56 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Better in idea than execution, October 18, 2011
This review is from: Hung: Season 2 (DVD)
I've watched seasons I and II of Hung with mixed emotions. In season II I'm heading more toward dropping it, due largely to the writing and in some increasing sense, the casting.

The premise, that Ray Drecker is a high school coach (getting laid off in this season) by day, and reluctant male prostitute by night, totally sparks my interest. Current, provocative, a story seed that can grow and blossom in any number of interesting ways. However the writers just aren't going anywhere at all with this. The shock value of an average Joe using his biggest endowment to earn a salary wore off in Season I. We saw Ray awkwardly executing his first few jobs, we saw him come to terms, sorta, with his status as male prostitute, we saw Tanya the poet totally get off on the vision of herself as a pimp. Enter the evil conniving woman who tries to take over the business for a bit of intrigue and stress. And that... is pretty much where we have Season II as well. And the first few episodes of Season III. Nothing much is happening that's new, and they've explored most of the avenues opened in the first several episodes of the entire series. There simply isn't any freshness in the story line.

Another problem I have is the relative sexiness of the show. I'm a woman - the target client of this fictional male gigolo - and what I'm seeing is more of a male-fantasy version of a man giving women what they want so much they're willing to pay $600 a pop for it. For instance one recurring theme is that Ray drops his pants to show a woman his size, and they immediately become obsessed with having him. [A thousand online dating clients with cell phone cameras will tell you that this approach does not seem to actually entice your average woman] I'm not really getting the sex appeal. Yes, he's handsome, but that only goes so far.

As a viewer, I want to root for Ray and I want to see him develop the fantasy that he's selling in order to like and stick with his character. It would be forgivable if early on he was uncertain what made women tick and gradually came to understand that it wasn't a big you-know-what. However what I'm seeing is a character who doesn't seem to especially like women in any way that could come across as passion, sexiness or even interest to work out how to really please them. He sighs quite a bit (actually quite disgusting, old-man phlegm-filled rattles), he frowns, he isn't gentle, he argues with them defensively when they tell him what they want, he rarely appears interested in any part of the process, and even in the heat of the sex scenes themselves he's often shown looking exhausted and as if he's one step away from either a stroke or a back injury. In fact he DOES often get injured by his usually younger, more limber and more exuberant clients. As a viewer not opposed to some hot sex scenes, can I just say there's nothing sexy about a man who can't caress a woman without dislocating a shoulder and then rolling around on the floor clutching himself and groaning dramatically while the woman asks if he's okay and apologizes for hurting him? As a woman, I'm not feeling that.

Following on that thought... this season the actor himself (who is actually very handsome) has aged visibly. Yet they still team him up with much younger women, and I'm finding it harder and harder to suspend my disbelief that these girls who are in some cases young enough to be his daughter, are interested in this frowning, sighing, curmudgeonly man. And it's becoming harder to watch his character basically pummel these very young women into a wall as hard as possible as if that's all a woman could possibly desire (and as a woman who has participated in many conversations pondering how to disabuse a partner of that particular belief, I keep waiting for the story line to address this) - the age disparity is starting to feel more 'umm...gross' than 'ooh..edgy'.

I've watched the first few episodes of Season III to see if the competing-gigolo story line did anything for the show's major issues, but so far it's actually almost highlighting the largest problems I have with it.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 22, 2011 7:00:57 AM PDT
Steve says:
Really observant and balanced review, Em. I watched the show in a whirlwind earlier this year thanks to on demand and enjoyed it but hadn't really thought as much of the faults as you acutely picked up on. Indeed, now into season three, I notice the growing disdain Ray seems to have for his clients and his job. How does this work when someone seems so disinterested in what he's supposed to be doing - provide happiness/wellness to women? The premise seems that size matters uber alles and, now that the younger guy is introduced, we find that women also want fury and energy. In short, the writers want to say that sexual satisfaction is all rooted in the physical - a very stereotypical male attitude. Granted, in writing about women so desperate for good sex that they are willing to pay for it (and in true Hollywood style - they're all very attractive), they seem to omit the overwhelming majority of women. They try to avoid such negativity by focusing on the more intricate issues of women's sexuality (e.g., Tanya's silly wellness classes, which seem borderline ridiculous, as if this were forty years ago and the availability of sexual information was not as readily available as one's computer), but then they boil down a woman's sexual pleasure to size and fury and thus imply that none of the other components of truly good and satisfying sex matter. Again, this is an anachronicsm and a very male-paranoid cliche at that: women are essentially stock porn fantasy characters, endlessly horny and needing it bigger, faster, harder.
Still, I find the show amusing enough because it is HBO and the writing is above the rest of tv, warts and all. But, it is limited in scope and where it can go. Add in the season three hackneyed male fantasy factor of a hot former student going after Ray and it seems that the places they want to go aren't going to do much for me. I'll finish this season out and see where it goes, but I'm thinking Hung doesn't have much longer until it runs out of energy and passes out....immediately afterward.

Posted on Dec 3, 2011 6:39:31 AM PST
Kcorn says:
Very helpful review! Appreciated for sure.

Posted on Jan 25, 2012 12:56:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012 1:09:47 PM PST
Audra Thomas says:
... a really extremely interesting review, especially the observation as to what constitutes real "sexiness" for a woman-customer. his attractiveness aside, i don't believe that this man would (really)be succesful at his chosen "2nd" job. basically, what he's able to deliver is available at 2-a-penny. charm and a smile go a long way, and without same, anything else is just a bonus... you know, like a rolls-royce grill on a jalopy: CERTAINLY AN EYE-CATCHING DETAIL... BUT STILL, IT'S JUST A JALOPY!

Posted on Mar 12, 2012 3:20:26 PM PDT
John Bosley says:
This is probably the best review about any given tv show that i have ever read on amazon. You really made me THINK while reading and you changed my perception of 'Hung'. I can really share your view. By the way, i am male.

Posted on Jan 20, 2014 2:58:59 PM PST
The Deacon says:
I think you are missing half of the point of the show. Like all prostitutes, Ray is in this for the money. His second job isn't really a job that he "chose", but rather one that he feels forced to engage in out of economic desperation. There's only so much fake passion that someone in this line of work is going to be able to summon up, regardless of the amount of money involved. It is the inherent exploitative nature of prostitution that is primary reason it is a crime.

I think part of the attraction of the show is its quasi-realism. Yes, there is a fantasy being sold (an attractive middle-aged high school teacher/coach moonlighting as a gigolo), but we are also shown a man going through a midlife crisis of sorts. The source of the crisis in this case is economic as opposed to pure age or relationship troubles, but that's also often the case with such crises in real life. The idealism and confidence of youth has given way to a mature understanding of just how difficult life can be and that often it just plain sucks. One's ability to control one's circumstances is a great deal less most people believe at an earlier age, and Ray is coming to terms with that in the way that most of us find we have to. His solution is not common, but his problems are.

The above storyline and strength of writing behind it is the primary reason I'm still watching the show. If this were just a show about a male gigolo, it would be far less interesting and wouldn't have been worth watching past the first few episodes.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2014 7:48:00 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 24, 2014 7:50:37 AM PST
Em says:
I totally agree with you about Ray's position. It's not his character's motivation that I have a problem with in the least. That was the part that initially caught my interest as well!

What Ray sells requires clients, and to acquire clients he must be selling something that they want, and something they value enough to pay for. And that is where I have problems with the plot. His clients are women, and he's offering something that (realistically) women have from time immemorial responded to with indifference - which is rather unsexy, uninspired, going-through-the-motions sex.

Is there a market for suburban male gigolos? Absolutely. Could this story line be realistic? Yes!! And fun, and interesting. But Ray would have to sell women something they couldn't get through, and something they wouldn't (realistically) complain about to their friends later. It would have to be something they felt they couldn't get easily for free, and something they really wanted. And what Ray was offering (at least at the point I stopped watching) was neither of those things.

Maybe the show has moved on and developed past that point - I haven't watched it since the first few episodes of season 3 (and don't even know if it's still on the air!).

Posted on May 28, 2014 4:12:35 AM PDT
SummerKy says:
Great review, and I completely agree. I think this show would have 'hit the mark' if they'd made Ray someone that female viewers wanted to have sex with. Women have never had a problem finding a male partner for sex. It's as easy as purchasing a piece gum, so paying for sex really needed to be a much bigger deal than it was. There was nothing about Ray I found appealing, and after Season 1, I was nearly certain I was finished with the show and after reading your review, I know I am done. Oh well, maybe next time.

Posted on Jun 21, 2015 8:10:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 21, 2015 9:15:43 PM PDT
Boo G. says:
While some of the sex scenes may be rooted in male fantasy, the show does depict Ray in several instances being more than just a quick rough lay to these women. With his very first client, the woman is older and plump, while initially turned off, he goes slow to make her feel comfortable and to meet her on her level, she leaves a satisfied customer. With Gemma he clearly goes past that because not only does she request these roleplay scenarios but he develops feelings for her, wants her to stop paying him, and they go on outings that don't even include sex. With the black woman, I don't remember her name, he is a bit defensive when she wants to stop but ultimately they meet again and he consoles her when she confides in him - they don't even have sex in their next meeting, he just ends up being her emotional support. With Trissa, there is no intercourse and they go out skating together the next day. While he was initially rude and insensitive with Trissa once finding out she was born a man, Ray ultimately stands up for her and dances with her at the party even though some in attendance knew his real identity, once again providing emotional support for the customer and not just a big penis. With the pregnant woman, I don't remember her name either, they are depicted as having more than just rough sex and Ray is depicted as having some moral doubts due to her being pregnant and ignoring her husband, choosing to give advice on the situation instead of just being a mindless penis - with her, he is also shown as consoling her in one scene when she is upset.

You have to give a little to get a little. While there may be some fluff,"Hung" was pretty high-quality in terms of writing (though Season 3 was lackluster compared to the others) and character depth for any TV show but especially given the overall plot. So for these reasons, I disagree with the original review. Also, Ray is only seen getting hurt by Lynda, the cop who liked to roleplay and tackle him to the ground.

Posted on Jul 31, 2015 9:59:41 AM PDT
I don't understand the part about him being so much older than his clients. I didn't see that at all. Also, I saw Ray trying to be sensitive and understanding and useful and caring once he got past the rocky start. Agree that the writers are probably mostly male since they seem to think that the sight of a penis is a turn on for women. It's not.
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