Masters of Sex is a TV series about the groundbreaking study of human sexuality by the research duo Masters and Johnson. This research duo actually existed, but the series has been romanticized a bit to make it more enjoyable to watch. So why is this series so fun, even though it has less sex than the average episode of Game of Thrones?

Oh, exciting: sex!

Of course, you probably thought this was a series that was all about sex, sex, sex! And yes, half of the time it is about sexuality. But it’s also the personal stories of the main characters that make the series so interesting. There are episodes that end with everything going so wrong for all the characters that you genuinely think the shit is about to hit the fan. But just like in real life, everything continues as usual, even if someone starts an affair or discovers that someone is leading a double life. All the characters also face the consequences of their actions. And it’s the trials and tribulations outside of the research that show how much we have come to understand human behavior, precisely because we now (slightly) understand sex better.

Dr. Bill Masters is a gynecologist who starts a study on human sexuality. He is assisted by his secretary, Virginia Johnson, who offers him many ideas and seeks solutions to the problems Dr. Masters encounters. Virginia is a smart woman who leads a challenging life as a single mother, divorced as well, in the narrow-minded 1950s. Dr. Masters, on the other hand, is trying to build a perfect family with his wife, Libby. However, having children is not happening naturally. Libby desperately wants to get pregnant, and with the help of Dr. Masters’ methods, that might be possible. But Dr. Masters’ real baby is the research. But which hospital will allow him to observe people having sex or masturbating?

Different perspectives

There are also some supporting characters, like the hospital’s chief and his wife; the womanizing doctor who is more than eager to participate in the research so he can hop into bed with his favorite typist—for science, of course! But there’s also an ex-prostitute who discovers she can’t have children. And it’s surprising how few truly intimate acts you see. It’s not a series to watch with your little children, but there’s nothing offensive in this series. But really, it’s just very well-written and acted. Small dialogue that convey what’s going on. Transitions that clash with each other. Characters who act on the edge of decency, yet you still feel sympathy for them.

That’s how the series keeps your attention. And not because there’s explicit sex everywhere. Okay, it’s also true that it eventually becomes very soap-like, but it still remains captivating. Just like in Mad Men (I keep coming back to it), it’s primarily a story about a period when there were many changes in society. Especially regarding the position of women. And even though it’s the previous century, it wasn’t that long ago.

Fiction vs. truth

The series is based on real events and people, but it’s naturally heavily fictionalized. That’s what makes it more enjoyable to watch. However, there are also some inaccuracies regarding the personalities of the characters. As a result, some characters become slightly more likable than if you knew their true beliefs.

So, if you want to know the real story behind the research, the relationships, and the actual events, you’ll have to do some digging yourself. But Masters of Sex is a TV series to enjoy, and a little fantasy doesn’t take away from that.

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