Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tell Me You Love Me on HBO

I saw the first episode of Tell Me You Love Me on HBO On Demand last night.

It begins this Sunday, and I was going to wait until then to see it, like a normal person, but (a) who says I'm normal and (b) reporters from the Christian Science Monitor and the Baltimore Sun called in the past week to interview me about whether I thought Californication and Tell Me You Love Me represent a new leap forward in sexuality on television.

They do. Network television was and to some extent still is the old maid of media when it comes to sexuality. NYPD Blue made a little bit of progress in the 1990s, but it was HBO on cable which made the big breakthrough in the Bada Bing on The Sopranos, and went even further with Atia and Brutus (separately) in Rome.

Now even that has been surpassed by Hank and his continuous escapades in Californication, and the three couples we see in imperfect and intriguingly difficult relationships, in and out of beds and cars and clothes, in Tell Me You Love Me.

My favorite is the youngest couple - Hugo and Jamie, played very well by Luke Farrell Kirby and sizzling Michelle Borth. Their problem is the most common - they have great sex but Hugo has wandering eyes. Carolyn and Palek - also well played by Lost's Penny (Sonya Walger) (did she give up looking for Desmond?) and Adam Scott - are having trouble conceiving, which is making their sex into clinical baby making motions. And David and Katie - also well acted by Tim DeKay and Ally Walker - are in their 40s, and haven't had sex in a year.

All three couples are or will be headed to couples' therapist Dr. May Foster - Jane Alexander - who has been giving great performances since the Great White Hope in 1970. Dr. Foster may have the best sexual relationship, with her husband Arthur (David Selby), of any couple on the show, but you never know...

So ... three, actually, four couples, all trying to get the most of their physical and emotional relationships, with varying degrees of success. Lots of explicit sex, lots of nudity - yeah, front and back, women and men - and, yeah, if you must know, even more than in Californication.

There will be no doubt be lots of informed and uniformed discussions about whether what we're seeing is real or prosthetic.

Doesn't really matter, I'd say. The stories are real and captivating, even when a litte far-fetched (like David and Katie), and I'm looking forward to more Tell Me You Love Me.

Likely under the influence of the more libertine Internet, which is increasingly a form of television, the screens in our living rooms are growing up, and that's a good thing.

See also Tell You Love Me Seven Times and Tell Me You Love Me on Tell Me You Love Me: Episode 8

5-minute podcast about Tell Me You Love Me

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See also:

The Sopranos As A Nuts-And-Bolts Triumph of Non-Network TV

Good Sex on Rome, Bad FCC in Washington

The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

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