PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Television

'Hung' Season Two Premiere

Each of Ray's clients seems to believe that his self-assured “specialty service” is some kind of panacea for her particular female angst.

Hung

Cast: Thomas Jane, Jane Adams, Anne Heche
Subtitle: Season Two Premiere
Network: HBO
Air date: 2010-06-27
Website
Trailer
Amazon

Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane) has sex for money. He's a whore and a high school baseball coach, and a father and an ex-husband. He’s trying to raise money to rebuild his burned-down house, to get back his kids, to recapture his lost youth and so on. But more than all of those things (and despite all of those things), he's deeply uncomplicated.

That’s kind of the problem with HBO's Hung, yet another cable series about middle class financially and morally bankrupt characters trying to make ends meet. Sure, this second season asks some well-worn philosophical questions about the nature of right and wrong (as did the first season), but as the center of that debate, Ray signifies nothing more compelling than a very big dick.

Make no mistake, big dicks can operate as powerful symbols of masculinity, insecurity, and the American Dream (see: Boogie Nights, in which Jane also appeared), but while Hung has its stage set to see some of these types of stories play out, scene after scene positions Ray as a cipher for other characters -- mostly female -- to hash out their own familiar dramedy problems. (And in this way, Hung is also grossly hetero-normative; neither it nor Ray will not even consider sex with men.) Whether in loveless marriages, newly widowed or just over-the-hill, each of Ray's clients seems to believe that his self-assured “specialty service” is some kind of panacea for her particular female angst. Without proper unpacking, it's a situation that's as demoralizing as it is an oversimplified.

A fine example of this is Jessica (Anne Heche), Ray's ex-wife and the mother to his teen-aged twins (Ronnie Saxton and Sianoa Smit-McPhee). Despite Ray’s physical prowess and her affection for him, she left him for the more responsible Ronnie (Eddie Jemison), a dermatologist who promises a big bank account, free Botox injections, and little to no sexual satisfaction. As Jessica struggles to connect with her kids (though Ray does this with ease), she feels alienated by everyone around her, including her Polish mother (Marylouise Burke), who literally speaks another language. The series contrives to make Jessica such a sad, “lost person” that it can only point right to Ray’s crotch as the answer to her bevy of troubles.

Even Hung's female characters searching for empowerment outside of Ray’s pants, are weighted down with the same gendered baggage. A poet and a pimp, Tanya (played brilliantly by Jane Adams) is looking for financial stability and mutual respect out of her business partnership with Ray. Ostensibly needy, she fidgets beneath a thrift store wardrobe and makes reference to her grad school salad days, but she also exhibits a calm and grace that none of the other women in Ray’s life posses. But without Ray, she can’t conceive of her own value -- that is, until a wealthy client gifts her a designer sweater, one that Tanya “couldn’t possibly afford.” Standing in front of her bedroom mirror, she models it with a renewed self-confidence. However unfortunate, it stands alone as the series' only suggestion so far of female satisfaction that doesn’t involve Ray’s penis.

5

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.