“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, the final episode in season 2, encapsulated the strengths and weaknesses of this excellent but inconsistent show. The main selling point continues to be the relationship between Bill and Ginny: as they worked towards curing Bill’s impotence, they grappled with the unpleasant possibility of being professionally bested by Dr Kaufman, author of the inferior ‘Man And Sex’, and of seeing a sanitised version of their own research broadcast on CBS. Even by Bill’s standards, his tactics to avoid the latter are breathtakingly selfish, earning him a rebuke from an old friend making a welcome return to the show. And they might cost Ginny her children, even if that’s a storyline I otherwise find it hard to get too worked up about.
The subplots, though, continued to disappoint. Libby’s continuing relationship with Robert still seemed as if it arose because of a desire to do something with Libby, and to do something about race. Hey presto: Libby and an African-American. (Although we did find out that Libby has known about Bill and Ginny for years.) And turning the tables so that Flo is reluctant to be seen publicly with Austin, because she thinks her family will regard him as a blond airhead, was a neat trick, but probably no more than that. (It also left unaddressed the potentially more interesting issue of whether Austin’s sudden willingness to hang with Flo was because of personal ambition, or because he likes her.) I’m probably being inconsistent, though, because even though the idea of Lester and Barbara fixing each other through love is melodramatic and manipulative, I found it sweet and touching.
So: overall, a good if mixed episode, ending a good if occasionally variable season. It’s that which stops Masters of Sex from being promoted to the TV premier league: the show didn’t quite make the leap that, say, The Americans made between its first two seasons. Still, the fact that we live in an age when something as daring, intelligent, thoughtful, and well-acted as Masters of Sex isn’t even close to being the best thing on TV is something to give thanks for, and “Fight” was one of the best episodes of anything I’m likely to see all year.