MASTERS OF SEX
When: 10 p.m. Sunday.
Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” ended the first season with Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) standing in the rain outside the door of Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) and telling her he needs her. You don’t get much more romantic than that.
The two had been partners — both scientifically and intimately — in a human sexuality study in the 1950s. When season two begins on Sunday, the normally stoic Bill Masters is staring at a test pattern on his black-and-white TV. He has uncomfortably become a new father, while his wife, Libby (Caitlin Fitzgerald), dotes over their baby son.
The doctor is also out of a job and not sure what to do next. He was dismissed from the university after presenting along with filmed evidence his sex study findings.
Virginia has managed to hang onto her job as secretary to Dr. DePaul (Julianne Nicholson), with whom she’s developing a friendship. But because of the movie, all the doctors on campus are hitting on Virginia, thinking (correctly) that she was one of the women filmed having sex as part of the study.
The first episode of the new season starts a little slowly as it unwinds where all the characters are, but soon picks up steam. Bill’s former boss, Barton Scully (Beau Bridges), is undergoing electroshock therapy to “cure” his homosexuality, while his wife (Allison Janney) is reading “Lolita.”
Bill and Virginia are trying to deal with their attraction to each other while keeping it tamped down and under wraps.
Season two covers 1958 to 1961, the early inklings of the sexual revolution. What makes “Masters of Sex” so fascinating is that as relatively recent history, it reveals how much mores and sexual attitudes have both changed and remained the same in the little more than 50 years since the real Masters and Johnson began their study.
Homosexuality was closeted then and gay marriage would have been thought a preposterous idea, and yet there are still individuals and groups who advocate conversion therapy for gays. Abortion debates still make front-page news.
More than a history lesson, though, the series makes for great drama.Sheen and Caplan do a wonderful balancing act with their characters, hinting at their emotions while keeping a professional distance. While viewers may tune in at first for the sex, it’s the series’ complicated human emotions that make it one of the best shows on TV