A few days ago Jane wrote a little about HBO's new series Tell Me You Love Me which premiered last Sunday night. It's about several couples and their problematic sex lives, and touts itself as being probably the most explicit TV so far (with mainstream actors). After watching the preem and then catching parts of the first episode a couple more times throughout the week, I've seen lots of whining, many tits and Luke Kirby's balls, and I'd say that show is not without interest. It's midway between your standard TV drama and really soft soft-core porn, but also uncomfortably like seeing your parents fuck. You might know and like some of these actors from previous roles, and sorta feel bad for them for having to cavort around in their birthday suits.
On the other hand, I'm all for America getting a little more adult about sex. I especially liked (thought that may be the wrong word) the scene at the end of the first show where actress Sonya Walger, as the high-strung wife trying to get pregnant, gives her husband a depressing hand job as he watches TV. Now, it looked pretty real, and they did show some ejaculate, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. I've since read around a bit and the consensus seems to be that the penis was prosthetic (ergo fake cum, too), as were Luke Kirby's balls, mentioned in the previous paragraph. I have to say that I'm a tad disappointed (again, that might not be quite the right word) to learn that basically everything except the breasts on the women are faked. But hey, these are actors, not porn stars, and I will admit that the cast members (and their members, real or not) of TMYLM are, on the whole, quite a bit more talented than your average pornsters. And have considerably fewer tattoos. (If there's one thing that kinda gives away the rough edges around porn, it's gotta be those ink-stained bodies. There are tattoos everywhere on those folks.)
I think I've gotten spoiled from watching Canadian pay TV, where quite hardcore material frequently airs in the overnight hours and no big deal is made over it. The only thing that TMYLM has that the latenight movies don't is, ironically, the ejaculation shot. Aficionados may prefer to refer to it as "the money shot" but never was it as joyless as in the HBO show.
I do think a shout out to several of the actors on TMYLM is in order. Ally Walker, whom you probably remember from her starring role as The Profiler a few years back, is superb as the bereft wife in a near-platonic suburban marriage. Walker, an intelligent actress--she's a physics major and worked in a genetics lab before devoting herself to acting--is perfectly paired with the likeable Tim DeKay who was so marvelous in HBO's sadly-cancelled Carnivale from a couple seasons ago. Luke Kirby is attractive as a young newlywed who can't quite get his head around the idea of lifelong fidelity, and of course, as Jane mentioned before, Jane Alexander is also a serene and wise presence as the therapist. Everybody in the cast is good; you might end up having a favorite couple, if you can stick with the possibly overwrought navel-gazing long enough. Truly, you need a little skin to help you get through the whines.
At least it's a little more brazen than the usual ho-hum stuff, as is Showtime's David Duchovny sex-filled comedy/drama Californication which has been on a few weeks. I haven't quite warmed to it yet but Duchovny is always watchable, though I am creeped out a bit by the actress playing his teenage daughter. It's like she escaped from the brunette version of Children of the Damned. Very strange face and I think I really believe in alien/human hybrids now.
Such is the state of people having sex in mainstream U.S. media.