“A Dick and a Dream or Fight the Honey”
September 13th, 2009
While we can argue back and forth on whether Hung’s ensemble were used to the degree that Nurse Jackie’s, or whether Thomas Jane could possibly stand up to Edie Falco in a direct comparison, I don’t think there’s any question that Hung had a far clearer sense of its own identity in its freshman season.
From beginning the end, the show was an investigation of these economic times we live in, portraying a potentially farcical concept (high school teacher turns prostitute) in a starkly realistic context. When we learn in the finale that 70% of the teachers at Ray’s school are getting laid off, only so that they can then re-apply and be denied the benefits they currently have, it feels like another drop in the bucket, and that’s the point: it’s not going to stop anytime soon, and whatever you can do to stay afloat is understandable if not particularly ethical.
As such, we find a finale where every single character is forced to make adjustments to who they believe they are in an effort to maintain this screwed up status quo, this realistic scenario wherein a poet becomes a pimp. Tying together quite marvelously nearly every single character, the finale depicts those moments where your attempts to alter your identity run head first into a brick wall, and how each character works to climb over top of it into a new stage in their life.
For some it’s almost too easy, and for others it’s going to prove a comic, dramatic, and engaging challenge.
“Thith ith a Prothetic or You Cum Just Right”
August 24th, 2009
“I left a boy to marry a man.”
I’ve been enjoying Hung’s first season, and have especially enjoyed the recent series of episodes. Jemma’s entrance has given us a really intriguing point of view into how Ray’s new employment is changing his own life, and seeing a glimpse into Tonya’s home life last week was another example of the show trying to branch out beyond the show’s premise in order to tap into these characters at a deeper level. I don’t think anyone who has kept watching can truly claim that the show is even remotely about sex, or Ray’s penis, or any of those things.
But the one element of the show that I’ve had trouble reconciling with a lot of it was the question of Ray’s ex-wife: Anne Heche is a fine actress, but Jessica as a character is shrill and annoying, and any of the show’s attempts to garner sympathy for her has felt like a distraction. Her husband’s financial issues are not really Ray’s concern, and when the show veers into her life it just seems like she had nothing to add to this story.
I don’t think this week’s episode justifies the amount of time we’ve on occasion spent with her, but I do think that it more clearly puts her position into context. The past has always been a sort of unspoken part of this show: Ray has never really figured out why his wife left him, and it’s almost as if his present has been soul-crushing that he’s been stuck in it rather than looking either forwards or backwards. And now, in his new job, the past is irrelevant: there is still no past or future in the midst of his various encounters, and that’s something that he has absolutely no problem with. It’s when you start to play with emotions, the “mindfrakking” if you will, that things begin to reflect what Jessica saw as Ray’s lack of maturity.
And what I see as the show’s greatest accomplishment thus far.