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MASTERS OF SEX: More Mad Men or Playboy Club?

Sunday night saw the debut of Showtime’s new, and much anticipated period drama, Masters of SexThe series, which explores the story behind famed, mid-twentieth century sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, is yet another television drama attempting to capitalize on the ground initially laid by the long-running AMC drama Mad Men. However, unlike network duds The Playboy Club and Pan Am, Masters of Sex has the solid writing and interesting characters necessary to give cable network Showtime a hit series.

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Masters of Sex stars Michael Sheen (Underworld, Tron: Legacy) and Lizzy Caplan (New GirlParty Down) as William Masters and Virginia Johnson. The pilot episode introduces Masters, the famous OB/GYN and reproductive specialist, in 1956. Riding a professional high, his awkward and reproductively challenged marriage to Libby Masters (a likable Caitlin FitzGerald) seems almost cruelly ironic. Planning what he envisions as a groundbreaking, but likely controversial sex study, Masters hires a divorced undergraduate student (Johnson) to replace his conservative secretary (character actress Margo Martindale). Together, Masters and Johnson begin work on one of the most groundbreaking studies on human sexuality, which many theorists credit as being responsible for changing the cultural climate of the mid-twentieth century.

The series is made by the smart, and heartfelt performances of its two leads, as well as the strength of the main characters. Caplan portrays Johnson as a smart, savvy and free-thinking woman. She is able to stand-up for herself, and hold her own in the heavily male dominated environment of the teaching hospital. Sheen, who has proven himself repeatedly as a talented chameleon in a variety of genres, sinks his teeth into the character of William Masters and all his complicated layers. A successful surgeon, Sheen conveys Masters as a man whose ego is heavily struggling with the vulnerability caused by the strained relationship with his wife. Together, Caplan and Sheen achieve a magnetic chemistry, which serves as a strong basis for the series.

The series was written and developed by Michelle Ashford, a prolific television writer whose career spans twenty years, and a number of popular series’ like 21 Jump Street, Boomtown and The Pacific. Masters of Sex  is incredibly well written, and all of the characters are multi-layered and complex. It is the combination of Ashford’s well-crafted writing, and the brilliant performances of the series’ actors that make the period drama one of the best of the television season.

Masters of Sex airs Sunday nights on cable network Showtime. Will you be tuning in for episode two?

The Author

Kimberly Pierce

Kimberly Pierce

I’m passionate about writing; I have a strong interest in fiction. I have authored a number of short stories, as well as screen and teleplays. When my nose isn’t buried in the latest script or article I’m writing, I’m listening to my favorite Nerdist podcasts, catching up on my favorite television shows or throwing myself into genealogy research.

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