Scientific Voyeurism Is Sexier Than It Sounds

Showtime's Masters of Sex follows Masters and Johnson as they make names for themselves by watching other people have sex. Interested? You should be.

Masters of Sex

Showtime's newest series, Masters of Sex, premiered last night and did rather well. That might have something to do with the level of intrigue associated with the show. With a title like that, it's easy to pull in the curious. But, what's the gist and what can you expect? That, dear readers, is easy to answer.

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You should expect sex. And scandal. Just like on any other cable television show. This one, though, is rooted in history. Not just the vague idea of a certain era — this isn't a Matthew Weiner "Yes, we landed on the moon, now watch Don Draper cheat on his wife, again!" soap opera. Masters of Sex is based on events, some real and some rumored but all equally provocative.

Masters of Sex follows the lives of Dr. William H. Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzie Caplan). If you've taken any lower level psychology class, you may remember the Masters and Johnson experiments. If not, the gist is simple: Masters and Johnson studied the mechanics of sex and arousal. For instance, in the premiere, they watch as two people copulate while hooked up to heart monitors. And that's just the first episode. This is the story of the experiments, the people who conducted them and the effects their studies had on their personal lives. And, trust us, those experiments definitely affected Masters and Johnson's lives.

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Sure, they're scientists. But, don't expect things to remain cold, distant and detached. A man and a woman can only watch sex from behind a mirror for so long before "feelings" start to arise. In the premiere episode, we already witnessed Masters propose that he and Johnson actually take part in the experiment. Will she have sex with him? It looks that way.

As a show, it's an interesting concept. To a certain extent, we're watching people who are watching people have sex. Is that a turn on, a turn off or just another evening in front of the tube? That probably depends on how you feel about Sheen, Caplan and the buttoned-up-but-oh-so-sexy style of the '50s.

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Our advice: Hunt down the first episode in reruns or on demand and give it a go... just make sure the kids are asleep. We're hooked. We think you will be, too.

Image courtesy of Showtime

Tags: lizzy caplan

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