Masters of Sex: Real Science in a Sexy Package

Virginia Johnson and Bill Masters are real life sex researchers who built their careers on demystifying sex myths and misinformation. Not as sexy and good looking  as Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, who play the power couple on the show, the sex duo was able to breakthrough in the fields of infertility, impotence and arousal giving us a more in depth understanding of how reproductive and recreational sex function. Their work expanded on what Kinsey had already put forth and debunked many of the mistakes Freud made while speaking on the subject of frigidity and female sexuality.

Going on Season 4, the show is loosely based on the life of the Masters-Johnson family life and dynamic. None of the children and marriages in the series are portrayed accurately and Showtime makes the disclaimer that they are only there to add to the drama. I wonder if the real progeny cared about this improvement but I haven’t heard from the descendants in regards to the show. Since the true Virginia and Bill aren’t around no one knows what they would think of the portrayal of their achievements and personal life. I bet the review of the show would have been epic.

The main reason I watch the series is because the writers undertook a herculean effort to make the female characters stand out against the background of the conservative 1950s and 60s. Libby, Virginia and Bettie grow, learn and blossom as feminists, communicating to the world that getting divorced, finding yourself in the process and following your dreams is not only a right but an obligation we have as women. To fulfill our destinies we must be unencumbered by the expectations of society. Virginia alone carries the show and starts strong as a single mother of two that later becomes an assertive scholarly expert in control of her own sexuality. In the only area where she fails is escaping Bill’s influence and his troubles which seem to stick to her like glue.

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The work showcased in the series is the real reason we should all be watching the show. The material is superbly delivered by Sheen and Caplan giving justice to what the team published and advocated. From this perspective, the science holds ground and reminds me of what was covered in the psychology of sex classes we took in college. We were fascinated by both sex and the psychological response to it, so much so that as engineers we minored in psychology. This is why I know the show is more of a gift than a burden to watch because it brings to light information we should all know as adults, helping us become more understanding of the struggles of those facing sexual and reproductive issues. It puts faces to known social ills and explains both the science and the background in which the sexual revolution exploted into the mainstream. 

On screen, the chemistry between Masters and Johnson comes through especially during the research scenes which are very tastefully executed. Because it is Showtime after all you have to understand that the sex scenes you will see in the show are all over the realm of what the couple covered in their studies. It is not raunchy and commercialized sex, it is full of emotion, fear, anxiety and uncomfortable situations. I have to applaud the effort to humanize homosexuality and show the problems that plagued the LGBTQIA and Black communities through the times. The show carries a brilliant torch for these and the feminist cause that shines brightly into season 4.

Check it out from the beginning on Showtime, On Demand and online to catch up to the many woes and misfortunes of the Masters of Sex. The latest season started in September and airs Sundays at 10pm. You can also read their textbooks and become more familiar with their studies. Google Masters and Johnson for more info.

Enjoy!

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