Well Season 1 of HBO’s “Hung” wrapped up on Sunday and as a fan of Thomas Jane, I have been watching the show each week in hope of seeing our well endowed hero finally piece his life back together. The show has had more downs than ups, but I have still tried to give it the benefit of the doubt. I feel the real problem lies in the story. HBO has marketed the show as a sexy tale of a downtrodden man turned male prostitute. That description fits pretty well, with the exception of the sexy part.
Now don’t get me wrong, the show has its fair share of sex: next door neighbor sex, sex with a friend, and even sex in a department store. But does that equate to what I was expecting? The answer is no.
Jane’s performance is always top notch. Whenever Ray is on screen or narrating a scene, we feel his emotion pouring out of every word. As viewers we want Ray to succeed. We want him to succeed in rebuilding his home, reconnecting with his kids, and of course, we want him to get laid!
That’s the main problem with the show. When you have a show about a male prostitute, you expect to see sex in every episode, but we didn’t get that in this freshman season of “Hung”. Instead we got a lot of story about characters that are less than interesting: Tanya (Jane Adams) has an entire episode dedicated to her struggles with her mother, Ray tries to court one of his clients, Jemma (Natalie Zea) for multiple episodes, and the ever present “Is his son Damon (Charlie Saxton) gay, or in love with his sister Darby (Sianoa Smit-McPhee)?” story. For a show about a male prostitute attempting to rebuild his life, these storylines are way too distracting and pull us away from the stories that push “Hung” in the right direction: Will Ray’s next door neighbor discover his wife is sleeping with Ray? Will Lenore (Rebecca Creskoff) accidently reveal Ray’s new “job” to his ex-wife Jessica (Anne Heche)?
Speaking of that last bit specifically, that should have happened halfway through the series. It was a very lackluster cliffhanger to see Ray walk away from his wife’s hotel room door as she eagerly awaited the arrival of an unknown male prostitute (Ray). My girlfriend and I were yelling at the screen “Knock on the door!” In addition, for a show where one of the central theme is sex, it was practically absent from the finale. We had a very brief scene where Ray is pouring honey on his neighbor’s wife and having sex with her, but it’s immediately interrupted by an impromptu visit by Tania.
The season finale left me questioning if I really wanted to watch Season 2. I’m a TV junkie, so I’ll tune in to see if the writers finally got their shit together. Ultimately I’m disappointed with the first season: Too many lows, not enough highs, and definitely not enough sex. In my personal opinion, the writers should have given Ray a pool of less than attractive women to be Ray’s clients. One of the most powerful scenes from the entire season was Ray’s honest conversation with his very first client, an overweight woman who wanted to talk to Ray more than she wanted to have sex. It was moving and interesting to see what happens to the average American woman when placed in this situation. I wanted to see more of these uplifting moments. I wanted to see his house rebuilt at the end of the season. I wanted his kids to enjoy spending more time with him. A part of me wants to see Ray back with his ex-wife Jessica, but only if he secretly retains his job as a prostitute. Now THAT’S drama!
She agrees with me!
The actors in this series never disappoint, giving genuine performances. I never feel like I’m watching a performance, but actual people living out their lives. High marks to Thomas Jane, Anne Heche and Rebecca Creskoff. However, Sianoa Smit-McPhee and Eddie Jemison (Heche’s new husband) need to pick it up next season.
For a show about sex, there needs to be more of it. Best visual from the season finale was the honey slowly falling down onto the belly of Ray’s next door neighbor’s cheating wife.
This series could have gone in so many directions. Would Ray end up sleeping with one of his students mothers, thus endangering his job? Would his ex wife find out? I sit and think of all the different type of clients Ray could have encountered in this first season… but none of those concepts were explored.
Overall Score: 6.75
Let’s hope for a BIG season premier next year! (See what I did there?)Last 5 posts by Josh Singleton
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