Advertising is going to do what it needs to do to put butts in seats, but don't mistake the scantily clad men and women in the posters pushing Masters of Sex for a promise of wall-to-wall, premium TV humping. Yes, this show is about sex. Yes, people get naked. But this isn't After Dark on Cinemax. Being serious about sex means being serious about gender roles and evolving perspectives on pleasure in America during the '50s, who's entitled to it (everyone) and in what ways (all of 'em).
The first episode, with its conversations between Johnson and Masters's protégé Ethan Haas (Nicholas D'Agosto) about what sex means in terms of a friendship, is loaded with big, important ideas. There's a confrontation between the two at the episode's end that speaks to the show's willingness to expose sexist, conservative ideas about pleasure for what they are.
I've only seen the first two episodes, but if the show continues to get better—the dialogue could use more subtext—Masters of Sex will be just the thing we need in a Breaking Bad-less world. —Ross Scarano