Customer Reviews: Masters of Sex Season 1
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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on October 1, 2014
Very well written and acted. The only negative thing I'll say is that everyone seems so miserably guilty about everything. So anxious.
Not just sex but everything. I'm 73 and grew up during that time period and the show brings back painful memories of what it was like growing up female in a time when men completely ruled women and what they did with their bodies. How could men and women have been so ignorant about female sexual response? All women needed to do was speak up, but we were shamed by people like Freud. We've improved in the past 60 years but not nearly enough. This is sometimes very painful to watch.
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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.
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I was really surprised to learn that the career of Masters and Johnson was made into a Showtime original series. The writers, producers and actors have provided the audience with an incredibly high caliber show.

It's not an easy task to take such a sensitive subject, especially one that involves the lives of real people, and make it into a successful and highly regarded TV series. If an attempt was made just a few years ago to come out with a series like this, I'm sure that those promoting it would have been called crazy.

The fact that it deals with real life explicit sexual situations is reason enough for a TV network to say no to a proposal such as this. After all, the FCC wouldn't allow it to be broadcast over the regular airways. Thank goodness that Showtime stood up to the plate, as the actors in this series make for an extremely compelling and entertaining show.

From the pilot, right through all of the episodes of season one, my wife and I have been captivated and mesmerized by the nature of this series. This is as real as it gets. I can guarantee that you'll be hooked after watching the very first episode(pilot) of this incredible series. It's first rate throughout.
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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.
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on July 22, 2015
Definitely this is a stimulating series and I love the topic. However, there are major historical inaccuracies and a tendency for melodrama. The actors are wonderful though, and the subject can't be beat, but the writing at times descends to the level of soap opera, which lessens my appreciation of the series.
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on January 1, 2015
Masters of Sex is a show about the famous 1950s study on human sexuality by Dr William Masters (played by Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (played by Lizzy Caplan). It is a fictionalized version of the events surrounding the study, with true elements woven into the story. Like most of the cable shows the season is relatively short, just 12 episodes, but it packs a lot of story lines into the season. Some of them get resolved, some are left open and some are even cliffhangers leading into season 2.

What makes the show work is the quality writing and acting. Sheen is great as the sometimes distant, sometimes off-putting often times arrogant and sometimes very emotional Masters. He plays the character very buttoned up, but in the moments where he has to let loose with any kind of emotion he does it very well. Likewise, Caplan is great as Johnson a mother of two, who has no qualifications to assist in a medical study yet, in part because of the controversial nature of the work, manages to get herself a position first as Master's secretary, then as an assistant. The two have seemingly great chemistry and portray the ups and downs of the relationship between Masters and Johnson extremely well. Aside from the two leads all the ancillary characters and the actors playing them are done almost perfectly.

The show does a great job of capturing the backdrop of the 1950s, from the absurdity of the duck and cover nuclear drills, to women's role in society vs men's roles, a hint of the racial divide that existed then (and still does in some way today) and so on. The show even explores the issue of homosexuality involving one of the main characters and his effort to "cure" himself. It also explored the science vs society debate that is still raging today.

The show does have a lot of sex and nudity in it, obviously, but it is not there just for the sake of having sex in the show. But for some that will make them just as uncomfortable as it did back in the 50's so if you are one you probably will want to skip this. While there certainly are some soap opera like elements to parts of the stories, that part is toned down quite a bit, so if you hate soap opera like shows, be they daytime or prime time, don't worry about this one.

For those who get the blu ray set, the show looks and sounds great. For extras there are deleted scenes for select episodes, and making of and behind the scenes material spread across the three discs. Probably about an hours worth of extras all totaled. Enough to keep those who like going through the bonus material happy. If you have heard great things about the show but have not yet checked it out, I would definitely recommend it.
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