Aug 052014


This episode “Dirty Jobs” seemed to have a lot to do with illusions and people trying to fit into them.  Betty isn’t used to being called “Mrs. Moretti,” and she tells Bill, “It makes me feel like I’m pretending to be somebody I’m not.”

“Things aren’t always what they seem, are they,” Bill says to Douglas Greathouse, talking about how Virginia is much more than just a secretary.

When we get to know someone, we often want to feel we really know that person. First impressions can be misleading. Spending time with someone, having conversations, can make us feel we’re making headway, and the relationship seems like it’s getting deeper.

Learning that someone is lying to us, or concealing the truth, can be a hard blow. Lillian DePaul is a lot like Bill Masters in some ways. She doesn’t let people in easily. She puts up a wall, and not many people can break through. When Lillian starts to trust Virginia, to confide in her, to let the wall down a little, it’s a huge deal for Lillian, especially as she worries that her mental capacities might be failing her.

When she learns (after a conversation with Austin Langham) that Virginia is romantically involved with Bill, she’s disappointed and upset. She wanted her first impression of Virginia–as a woman who needs to latch on to a man–to be wrong. She’s disappointed to find out that Virginia apparently needs a man for success after all.  “How could I have missed something so obvious?” Austin says, about himself, not realizing that Lillian feels the same way.

Lillian later talks to Virginia, hoping for some kind of confession, some clarification about taking shortcuts to get where you want to go in life. When Virginia claims to have no secrets, Lillian is disappointed once again, and extremely hurt that Virginia—Virginia who she’s shared so much with—won’t confide in her. She feels deeply betrayed. This is likely the closest Lillian has ever come to having a real friend, and now she feels it’s just an illusion, and the only one she can count on is herself. (And when you’re struggling with cancer, that has to be truly terrifying.)

Betty and her husband Gene have a tense confrontation over the betrayal he feels. She didn’t tell him that she knew she couldn’t have children. When she says he never would have married her if he knew the truth, he says it’s not true, and he drops a bombshell—he knows that she was a prostitute, and in fact, that’s how they met. He says she was the first woman who was truly nice to him, and when he saw her again at church, he knew they were meant to be together.

It brings up some interesting points. Can you love someone without truly knowing everything about them, or is that love only an illusion?  And if it is possible to love someone without knowing all of their aspects, is that love strong enough to endure a betrayal?

In the case of Betty and Gene, did he really love her or did he just see this lovely vision that seemed so comforting he thought it would sustain a whole marriage? As for Betty, we know (although I almost forgot) that she was a lesbian. When she is with Gene, does he just seem like a knight in shining armor, a safe meal ticket to get her out of the life that she had before? Or is it more than that–does she genuinely feel that she can change for him, and love him, and be someone totally different than she used to be?  She told Bill that she felt funny pretending to be someone she’s not. But if you marry a stranger, someone who doesn’t know very much about you, maybe you have to be comfortable with pretense, at least on some level.



  2 Responses to “Masters of Sex: Expectations and Disappointments”

  1. This episode contained a tremor and a major seismic shift. When Ginni held Dr. DePaul at bay, the doctor gave Dr. Papanikolaou her Pap Program. This had the practical likelihood of disseminating the Pap Test widely with proper funding and the motivation that Ginni lacks now that her involvement with Dr. Masters was found to be much more involved than it had appeared. It also had a effect of punishing Ginni.

    The seismic shift was very gratifying and potentially wide ranging; with two right crosses (which calls to “Fight”, the last episode) Dr. Masters effectively ended his brief association with the slimy Greathouse. The closing scene at the black hospital assured us that he landed, again, on his feet. This is probably the same hospital that birthed his own son. We (I) presume the new hospital will be more compliant than the former and that Ginni will be back to continue the Study. We will thus soon bid goodbye to Dr. DePaul and (probably) Betty and the Pretzel King. The loose-lipped Dr. Langham may be history as well – but may instead serve to further stir the pot.

    Working at the black hospital has implications for Masters’ reputation and clientele, not to mention the Work. How many of his former clients will “cross over” into “that hospital”? Unless he works out a guest-physician arrangement, his ability to fund The Study will be impaired.

    Another tremor: how much longer will Libby’s nanny endure her humiliations?

    • Yes, for this particular piece I chose to focus on just Lillian/Ginny and Betty/Gene, but there were certainly a lot of things going on in the episode (and I may end up writing a piece about some of the other characters as well)

      Libby’s attitude towards Coral is another betrayal, although I’m sure it only feels that way to Coral, not to Libby. Things started out so cozy and friendly. I’m sure Coral was originally relieved to have such a friendly employer and then only later saw how much Libby would be correcting her and trying to control what she says.

      The thing about “Coral she doesn’t need the whole story…she was just being polite” (I’m paraphrasing) was particularly cringeworthy. I agree that Coral was going on a little bit, but there were other ways to handle it. Implying that her guest is “just being polite” is insulting to the guest, as well as to Coral.

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