TV: Fall TV winds down – Masters of Sex, Better Things, You’re the Worst, The Blacklist and the Crown

 

Season Finales:

Masters of Sex (Showtime) – (Series Finale?

Masters of Sex wrapped up it’s fourth season with Masters and Johnson tying the knot; Bill’s ex-wife Libby off to California with their kids in a quintessential 60s VW bus to start law school at Berkeley and his childhood sweetheart leaving her husband and coming back to town. Bill’s look of concern in the final moments of the episode as he marries Virginia foreshadows a marriage that will ultimately fail.

Masters of Sex had a brilliant first season and then a couple of rough years. This season had its ups and more downs. There was a plot with a “Swing” couple getting jobs in the clinic that was just bizarre and not well developed at all; some hints at a gay conversion plot line that was not effectively flushed out; Virginia’s parent’s faltering marriage and more weak storylines.  Libby’s growth on the other hand was one of the highlights of the show and vindicates the show runners who kept the character despite all the critics who questioned her ongoing role.  Bill and Virginia’s relationship was non-existent most of the season and the side story using Niecy Nash, as his AA leader was a throwaway, which added little to the drama.

Masters of Sex hasn’t been renewed and I can’t help but think that this finale could easily serve as the series finale. I’m not sure how much more  story there is to tell here – two more decades of Bill and Virginia working in their clinic as their relationship goes downhill? Not much to get excited about there. Hopefully this is the end – I think it is a good place to put this baby to rest. Next week the Affair goes into this timeslot. Another Showtime drama that had a fantastic first season and then dropped off – I’ll be optimistic and tune in to see Joshua Jackson if nothing else.

Better Things (FX)

Better Things wrapped up a very fine first season with a strong episode that finally addresses what we have been thinking all along – Frankie is transgender. If you have missed this little gem of a show, it is about Sam, an actress, who is raising three girls on her own, Max, Duke and Frankie. It deals with the stresses and difficulty of being a single parent in addition to being a middle age woman in Hollywood trying to get work. Throughout the season, we wonder if Sam’s middle child is trans but there is nothing that makes Sam even question her child’s identity until the finale where her eldest daughter Max comes right out and tells her mother “Frankie is a boy”.

There is a lot of heart in this show along with laughs and tears and non-stop life events that we can all emphasize with. I’d recommend this show to anyone who has ever parented. You will be able to relate to it.

You’re The Worst (FXX)

You’re the Worst concluded Season 3 this week and while this season seemed more uneven than the first two, the finale made it all worthwhile. Over the course of the season, the show dealt with PTSD (in a fine episode solely focused on Paul), abortion and Gretchen’s attempt at therapy. In between some of the episodes we had were good and some were weak plotlines that didn’t hold up against the pretty much perfect first two seasons.

The finale consisted of the last two episodes shown back to back and both were excellent. The first half hour focused primarily on the disintegration of the three main couples and while Gretchen and Jimmy got back on track for awhile, it was clear that Lindsey and Paul and Dorothy and Edgar were not going to make it. The second half hour completed the breakups and in the most heartbreaking scene of the entire series, Jimmy proposes to Gretchen on Mulholland Drive only to react to her statement about them now “being a family” by freaking out.  As he drives off, leaving her behind, Gretchen’s expression says it all. Aya Cash was brilliant.

These characters are so dysfunctional that we have known from the beginning that even if Gretchen and Jimmy stay together, there won’t be a happy ending. Nonetheless, this was an emotionally packed ending to this season. I don’t know if there will be another one but I hope so because while I know just how awful these people are, I still hope they can find some measure of happiness together. 

Fall Finale:

The Blacklist (NBC) 

The Blacklist ended its fall season with possibly explaining Red’s relationship with Elizabeth. I say possibly because Red admitted that he was Lizzy’s father to Kirk (who turns out not to be Elizabeth’s father) while being tortured by Kirk so the confession is questionable. So what happened this season? Kirk, the master Russian criminal who purported to be Lizzy’s father, kidnapped Elizabeth and her baby and after many rescue attempts, the baby was released as was Lizzy when Red switched places with her.

I really didn’t care for where the storyline went at the end of last season and into this season. Lizzie’s return from death, the kidnapping of her child and the endless rescue attempts were all a stretch. The show worked most effectively in my opinion, when Lizzy was in the FBI and Red gave them a case of the week with the overshadowing mystery of why Red is so protective of Elizabeth. Now, Elizabeth is banished from the FBI with no real way back in and she is in a happy relationship with Tom and a new baby. We are tired of not having the relationship with Red explained and it just seems as the writers are at a loss for where to go next.  I really think the show has run its course and if the show runner had the latitude to end it this spring, I think he/she would.

Streaming:

The Crown (Netflix)

Who knew that an entire season about the early years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign would be so fascinating – but it is. Claire Foy in the lead role is compelling as the young monarch and the supporting cast is fine as well. Over the course of 10 episodes we see the Queen come in to her own despite being lied to and mislead by many in power. She also had to deal with her lack of education as well as a husband who feels emasculated.  She is entirely unprepared for the Crown that was put on her head at 25. Yet, despite all of this, she learns to hold her own with the most powerful people in the world.

We get an in-depth view of the strain Margaret’s relationship with Peter Townsend and her heartbreak at Elizabeth’s refusal to allow the marriage. We also get a glimpse into the exile of King Edward VIII and the ramifications of his abdication on the family. All of this is probably not very familiar to the American audience so should be of interest to those with an interest in the British Royal family. Watching how history changes over the course of her reign is going to be one of the great benefits of this series.

In addition to great acting, we also see amazing jewels, killer fashion and beautiful scenery. The only real issues I had with the show were the slowness of the pace (at times glacial) and the fact that it seemed to be filmed in very dark rooms all the time. Count me as a fan of this woman who has had such an amazing life and never seems to have put a wrong foot forward. I am looking forward to Season 2 and beyond.

 

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