With all the hoopala surrounding Breaking Bad‘s series finale and the plethora of new debuts, Masters of Sex flew right under the radar this summer. Nevertheless, I had to give Showtime’s provocative new drama a chance, and I’m glad that I did, because it’s wonderfully executed.
Masters of Sex is a period dramedy depicting the controversial works of Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, two pioneering researchers of human sexuality. The pilot’s success rests on the casting of its two leads, and both Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan do a superb job with the material. The former’s performance is both nuanced and appropriately awkward, while the latter delivers a turn that singlehandedly managed to make me like her for the first time in her career (I particularly detested her on True Blood).
Dr. Masters and Virginia are joined by a number of colorful characters that include Betty, a charming prostitute who aids them in their studies, and Masters’ colleague Dr. Austin who eventually displays a frightening violent streak. While I’m not dying to watch the show’s second outing, it’s an undeniably well-realized production with some impressive attention to detail (very Mad Men-esque). Showtime obviously knows what its doing, and I have a feeling that this quirky new drama just might be at the forefront at next year’s Emmy awards.
With a unique premise and some first-rate performances, this is a compelling pilot from a promising new show.