Hello and welcome to another rousing discussion of just the lesbian parts (more or less) of Masters of Sex!
First of all, can we all agree this season is really weird? Last season was all about how the study came to be and how all these sexually repressed people were learning things about themselves and how hard it was to conduct such racy experiments in conservative times and what a total douchebag Dr. Masters was, right? This season feels a bit forced. There are so many subplots going on at one time that we can’t ever stop to focus on one thing – not even the reasoning behind the relationship between Masters and Johnson, which I assume is the point of the whole show. What ever happened to Ethan Haas? Does anybody ever pay any attention to the Masters’ baby or did they just leave him in a bouncy swing for like three episodes straight? Is Barton Scully okay? I really liked that guy.
Anyway, last week we met Helen (Sarah Silverman), Betty Moretti’s fortune teller ex-girlfriend. Helen’s been dating Betty’s husband Gene’s old friend Al, but the whole thing has just been an excuse to get closer to Betty. Since everybody on this show is engaged in healthy relationships filled with rich, honest communication, it seems likely that this arrangement will turn out spectacularly well.
When we first see the Morettis this episode, Gene is earnestly explaining to Betty that although they’ve discussed adopting kids, he would be really disappointed to raise children that he’d never be able to see a part of Betty reflected in. We already know that Gene’s aware of Betty’s history as a prostitute and her inability to have kids (two things she was less than forthcoming about), but it’s clear that Gene loves her to the ends of the earth and back. When he tells Betty that she’s enough for him, as long as they’ve got each other, Betty shoots him the guiltiest affectionate smile she can muster.
Elsewhere, Virginia Johnson continues to be a goddamn saint and Libby Masters really raises the bar for racist, uptight white ladies everywhere. Who cares? Across town, this is happening:
Helen and Betty have snuck off to their little love nest (Helen’s place?) for a little illicit afternoon action, and their post-coital cuddle session just about breaks my heart. “I missed you,” Betty whispers, stroking Helen’s hair. They make out tenderly, gazing sweetly into each others’ eyes, but when Betty checks the clock to see how much longer she can stay, the reality of the situation really ruins the moment for Helen. Betty starts fantasizing about setting Helen up with her own apartment, where they could carry out their affair with relatively few complications. In her proposed scenario, Helen ditches Al and is totally available to Betty — who would stay married to Gene and pay for the apartment with Gene’s money. To Betty, this arrangement is the only way the two women can realistically hope to stay together forever, but Helen has no interest in being Betty’s dirty little secret.
Later on, Helen and Al pop by the Pretzel King’s place unannounced, and the two men start delightedly planning a spontaneous couples’ weekend getaway. Betty looks horrified by the whole thing, especially when Helen reveals that she’s asked Al to elope. Even though Betty is clearly using Gene for his money, status and stability, she can’t handle the idea of Helen doing the same. When Al kisses Helen in celebration, Betty absolutely snaps and tells them to get a room, declaring their behavior “just fuckin’ rude.”
Betty realizes she sounds like a crazy person and excuses herself. The next morning, she tells Gene that she never could stand Al and Helen and she doesn’t want to be a witness in their wedding — nor does she want to socialize with the two of them ever again. Gene looks perplexed — weren’t those two best friends like two days ago? Betty looks really pretty.
None of this makes any sense to Gene, but he meets up with Al to break the news that he and Betty will be unable to vacation or even casually socialize with Al and Helen from this day forwards, ’cause Betty is OVERRRR IT. The ensuing conversation between Gene and Al is actually kind of sweet — Al is completely besotted with Helen and totally oblivious to the ways of women’s sexuality, so when he reports having seen Betty and Helen kissing “like Carey Grant and Grace Kelly,” it’s so clueless and innocent. Boy, those two must be great friends! Gene on the other hand has been around the block a few times, and he starts to put the pieces together.
Later that night, Gene confronts Betty about her relationship with Helen. She probably could have denied it and pretended that his accusations were ridiculous, but her face just… falls, revealing everything. She clarifies that she “loved” Helen, past tense, but her reaction renders her attempt at minimizing the situation utterly useless. Gene doesn’t seem particularly upset that Helen is a woman or what that means in the grander sense, which is pretty progressive for the time, but mostly he’s fed up about all the lies and deception that Betty’s put him through during the course of what he describes as a “fucking avalanche” of a marriage. At this point, who can blame him?
In the end, Betty does a piss-poor job of convincing Gene that she actually loves him, and he storms off.
Across town, terrible things happen all episode long. Nobody anywhere does the right thing in any situation ever (except Virginia), and everybody is sad. Typical.
Join us next week, when Sarah Silverman will no longer be on this show and we try to set Betty up with a nice girl, like maybe Coral or Vivian Scully.