Hanging Out with HBO’s ‘Hung’

As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I am currently enjoying a three-month free trial of HBO and various other premium channels, which probably explains the predominance of HBO and Showtime series in my writings. If you don’t want to pay for premium channels and can’t convince your cable provider to give you a free trial (give it a try one day), then, well, I was going to apologize, but you probably aren’t reading this blog.

Anyway, I recently DVR’d the first season of HBO’s Hung. I remember reading primarily negative reviews when the show premiered, so I set the recent marathon to record out of a somewhat morbid curiosity. Much to my surprise, I found Hung to be an extremely enjoyable viewing experience. The leisurely paced first season chronicles high-school basketball coach Ray Drecker’s attempts to dig himself out of a financial and psychological hole by becoming a prostitute (or, as his wonderfully clueless pimp Tanya Skagle deems him, a “happiness consultant”).

Played by Thomas Jane and Jane Adams, Ray and Tanya are a hilarious pair, filled with a world-weariness that I found refreshing and largely believable. Their performances were wonderful. The secondary characters include his ex-wife, played by Anne Heche; her new husband, a dweeby upper-middle-class doctor; their oddball kids; and Lenore, a “lifestylist” who Tanya reaches out to for help but who eventually tries to steal Ray away from her. The first season was effectively small in scope, and things for both Tanya and Ray actually seem worse than they did in the pilot episode (in which Ray’s house burned down and Tanya struggled with writer’s block).

The typical knock against the show is that it is dour, and I can’t disagree. But, at the same time, I found the minor victories that Ray and Tanya experienced throughout the first season more satisfying than anything I have watched in several months, and I am eagerly awaiting the second season later this year. I encourage you to check it out.