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HBO’s Hung: Season 1

August 10, 2010

HBO’s Hung features Thomas Jane playing a high school basketball coach named Ray Drecker whose life is slowly unraveling. In the pilot episode we discover that he is divorced from his wife of twenty years, a woman that is now married to a much more financially stable dermatologist. In addition to this bit of information, we see a flashback to Ray’s house getting caught on fire and nearly burning to a crisp. Ray’s kids had preferred to live with him rather than their uptight mother, but after the fire, Ray finds himself all alone, living in a tent on his property.

It’s during these grim circumstances that Ray seeks some help and decides to attend a money-making seminar. At this point we’re introduced to Tanya (Jane Adams), a woman that Ray recognizes as someone that used to come into his class to read and teach poetry to his students. The seminar doesn’t really work for Ray, but one thing stood out to him: “everybody has one special tool that can help him succeed.” Ray can’t admit his revelation to the workshop, but he decides that he knows what his tool is: his cock. Apparently, the man is blessed and the rest of the season follows his shenanigans as he progresses into a male prostitute or, in the case of his business, a happiness consultant. Tanya jumps on the bandwagon as his pimp and together they dive head first into an industry they both really know nothing about.

The first season of this series isn’t particularly good. The characters are mostly uninteresting. It seems as though Ray is pining after his ex-wife (Anne Heche), but it’s hard to see what he finds desirable other than familiarity and family unity. She’s shallow and not particularly attractive. Dude can do better and does so… many times. I’m on the fence about Tanya… at times I like the character and other times I can’t stand her. Ray is given a decision later in the season to step up his prostitute game with a more resourceful potential pimp and it’s hard to see the dilemma: he needs money and the opportunity presented should be lucrative. On top of that, prior to their business arrangement, Tanya and Ray don’t have any kind of history aside from a couple of one night stands together. Any reasonable man would be like “look, you’re good people, but I need to rebuild my house and get my family back and this is simply something I can’t pass up. Sorry.” But this is a T.V. show and tension must occur, no matter how implausible. The one moment this show had to create an awesome moment, the writers decided they weren’t ready to tackle that particular corner just yet and pussied out.

The acting here is mediocre as well. Something about Thomas Jane screams ordinary. I’ve never seen him in anything that impressed me and many times through Hung’s first season, I found myself wondering if this guy was even acting at all (and not in the good way). The supporting cast is pretty lifeless too, with possibly the exception of Jane Adams as Tanya. In a series where it seems like everyone else is kind of going through the motions, she at least looks like she’s putting some effort into her performance. The acting highlight of the season goes to Natalie Zea who drops in for a four episode arc as Jemma, a mentally twisted client that Ray finds himself falling for. It’s never clear what Jemma’s true intentions are and that’s a testament to what Zea brings to the character. It was sad to see her go.

Hung isn’t a total failure however. The premise of an ordinary man diving into the world of prostitution creates several interesting situations and hot scenes. Ray soon discovers that there is nothing glamorous about selling yourself for sex as you can’t always pick your clients. In this business money talks, so it’s fun to see his reaction when he knocks on the door of a big-boned, 50+ eternal loner. Fortunately, the first season has Ray tangling with Tanya’s “friend” Lenore and the wife of his obnoxious neighbor, both ridiculously hot and fully naked. It’s primarily this reason why I’d continue to watch Hung, as plenty of good looking women happily shed their clothing. I’m also looking forward to seeing what happens when Ray’s family discovers what he’s now doing for a living. Not a particularly good show, but I can’t see too many straight men hating it too much.

Grade: C
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Probably worth investing in a Mr Skin account instead of this DVD series.
Awards: Doubtful
Nudity?: Plenty! The saving grace of the series so far!

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