Which overhyped show should you watch? In Showdowns, Defamer's Beejoli Shah and Gawker's Rich Juzwiak tackle the tough issues: Which show each night this week sucks the least during the premiere season of this "Golden Age of Television."
Last night, we took on everyone's favorite topic—Sunday night sex! Rich watched Showtime's Masters of Sex, while Beejoli watched ABC's Betrayal.
Rich: Gimme a sex. (Not a typo, pun intentional) Ok. Let's talk about sex.
Beejoli: I did not come prepared with enough sex puns. Hahah just kidding I totally did!
Rich: Well, was it good for you? Betrayal, I mean.
Beejoli: It was unsatisfying. And long.
Rich: Hate that. I hate when it's like, "Ugh, get off already."
Beejoli: Seriously. Like, I could fall asleep and it would just keep going.
Rich: You gotta do what you gotta do to cope. I've fallen asleep during sex.
Beejoli: Me too.!
Rich: One guy forgave me, one DID NOT. At least he didn't rob me.
Beejoli: A stand up comedian I dated wrote that into his act once, and then pointed at me in the audience as his "narcoleptic nookie partner." I took more umbrage to the phrase "nookie partner." ANYWAYS, let's not let this become eyebrow gate all over again. Betrayal.
Rich: HAHA. I wish we had a gate. An actual gate.
Beejoli: I mean, I get it. It's a show about cheating on people. It has attainably beautiful people arching their backs and flexing their hip adductors seductively, while contemplating the gravity of their actions.
Rich: You could find that anywhere. In any bedroom in America, Maybe that's the point
Beejoli: This woman, Sarah, is a photographer married to a very busy District Attorney. You can tell their marriage is in shambles, because he did not like a tie she picked out for her big gallery show. She meets a handsome stranger, Jack McAllister (okay, points for great names, I watched the WB's Jack and Bobby solely for hot names alone, but still), and as you can imagine, it is on and poppin' via their eyes. Except, PS they have the saddest sexual tension ever. It's not sparkling eye contact and licked lips. From MOMENT ONE, they are staring at each other as if one just told the other they had five months left to live. Granted, I've never seduced anyone, much less been seduced myself, but I don't think watery tears at every turn are sexy?
Rich: No, tears are a turnoff.
Beejoli: Anyways, Jack works for his father in law who is some big real estate mogul who CONSTANTLY talks about "betrayal" (really hammering the point home here), and how nobody ever betrays the family. Jack is married to an old bag who hates her dad, but apparently she is supposed to be young and sexy. It is much more believable that their marriage is in shambles because their marriage is boring and loveless, and she looks 100 years older than him.
Rich: Oh man, just as a preview, Masters of Sex is also very on the nose like that.
Beejoli: Ugh. We get it guys, dig deeper on the analogies. Anyways, Jack and Sarah talk at Sarah's gallery show - and then fate (or the ABC producers) make them run into each other again. They end up spending the whole day together and hooking up in an elevator. It took all of two meetings to get them cheating on their spouses and multiple children, by the way. Four children among em, and four seconds before her bra was off in an another man's strong, rough-hewn hands.
Rich: Literally, this is like hearing about boring people I will never meet being so boring that I never WANT to meet them. No shade to your descriptive skills.
Beejoli: No, that is exactly how I feel. Pretty attractive but not insanely hot white guys are my bread and butter, and I couldn't even get into this show. The old scary real estate mogul man keeps blathering on about BETRAYAL and family, because they are dealing with some scandal of an uncle potentially milking money off the corporation. The only interesting (not good) part is that this old man Thatcher, has a son named TJ, who is written into the show as mildly retarded. The way ABC has chosen to address this is not in the sensitive yet intelligent way shows like Parenthood or Breaking Bad have gone with Max, Walt Jr., etc. Instead they have made him a man-child who talks about wanting to "go to the club" and says lines verbatim "Hey pop I'm a good boy right?" It's...offensive.
Rich: YIKES. It makes The Michael J. Fox Show sound revolutionary in contrast.
Beejoli: So anyways, the court jester son maybe sort of kills the money laundering uncle. It sure looks like it anyways but he wouldn't hurt a fly, what with him being so soft and just wanting his father's love and all. And then we find out that Sarah's husband will be prosecuting the case, and Sarah sees a photo in his newspaper of Jack being the defense attorney, and then she drops a bottle of wine and cries in her kitchen, as the wine stain spreads over the floor like a pool of blood. Oh and at some point in the future, Sarah got shot. They do a flash forward at the top of the pilot and they flash to it again at the end. Lucky bitch, I wished someone would have done that to me while watching the pilot. That's about it.
Rich: That sounds kind of funny.
Beejoli: Oh and the best line? Because I felt kind of bad for the busy DA husband getting cheated on just because he didn't like a tie. At the end, when telling his wife about this big case, he goes, "This could put me on the front page of Illinois news! This will get me District Attorney, then mayor, then senate. Barack Obama did it, Rahm Emanuel did it. I will too." So now I hate him and approve of the cheating and all, but still pretty boring.
The show in one sentence: Sexy strangers make cheating okay because they look suuuuper guilty about it, but don't betray your family.
Rich: Blood is thicker than semen. Is it, though? Is it? Someone should do a test.
Beejoli: Semen doesn't coagulate. Actually it once did coagulate in my hair and my boss noticed in a staff meeting, so yes, maybe we should do a test.
Rich: Sounds more productive than watching Betrayal. So Masters of Sex is fun. Which is to say that it doesn't do its subject matter a disservice. It's Titsapalooza levels of trashy, which is what Masters & Johnson were accused of being. His boss calls his initial report "smut." Which, you know, it was. Something can be profound and prurient. Sex as a subject matter is complicated in that way, in the best scenarios. Titillating your mind and your privates, that is a feat. Masters isn't so SMART, though. There are a lot of really earnest declarations like "The study of sex is the beginning of all life, and science holds the key!"
Beejoli: Okay SO, I also watched Masters of Sex, but mainly because I love Lizzy Caplan (I want to love Michael Sheen but there is nothing sexy about him to me), and was actually sort of surprised at how boring they made sex. I liked that there weren't a ton of gratuitious sex scenes, but I didn't feel like it was witty enough to keep up with the subject material either. But I saw it three months ago and have forgotten a lot, so maybe I'm wrong? I just thought it dulled down sex, which is sort of odd.
Rich: It is not witty. It is very obvious. "Why can't I have a baby? Why can't I give my husband a child?" cries Masters' wife. "I want a Nobel Prize!" cries Masters.
Beejoli: She should start producing a million dollars from her vagina, since that's clearly what he wants instead.
Rich: I like that Johnson is into fuck-buddying. I mean, you rarely see contemporary women on TV doing that let alone ones living in the '50s. She blows a dude, he falls in love and she's like, "Naw." Hero material. Said dude, by the way, is Nicholas D'Agosto, whom I knew as far back as Election would turn into a hot piece. What a gorgeous man.
Beejoli: VERY HOT. I recently realized I spend much of life wanting to be an Elle Woods, when really I'm a Tracy Flick.
Rich: The difference has everything to do with how clenched the resting state of your asshole is. There is, of course, a very literal contrast between Masters' work and his home life. He fucks his wife from behind without passion to inseminate her. Very CLINICAL, if you will.
Beejoli: Very clinical. Did you want to come back and see how their research went in the future? I did not, and I really thought I would love it.
Rich: I may stick with it. I really found it fun. Very easy show to follow. And hey, sex. You know, these cable shows could use being taken down a brow or two. Everything on premium cable is so adored and lauded, it seems, it's nice to have something that's trashy and mediocre.
Beejoli: I agree. This isn't so much high brow as it is waggling brows.
Rich: Wagging Brows, Bouncing Boobs: The Premium Cable Boom.
Beejoli: I will have to rewatch it. I remember thinking it was boring, but that was also because in the 50s everyone apparently only wore brown tweed everything.
Rich: Haha, yeah, well they're certainly Mad Men-ing up a storm. This show is NOT that show. But I think knowing what it is is key to enjoying it. Some tone-deaf lines aside, I have faith that this show knows what it is.
Beejoli: I will give it another try. It has Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, so it's already infinitely better than Betrayal.
Rich: Right. I win again!
Beejoli: Your shows ALWAYS win. On content, on sex, on brow position.
Rich: I know how to pick 'em.
Winner: Masters of Sex, because even though it's about the science of sex, ABC found a way to make the carnal parts even more boring.