With intrepid sex researchers, Masters and Johnson (Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan), finally set to return to our screens imminently after a dynamic-shattering, jaw-dropping (for both good and bad reasons) third outing, here’s my wishlist for Season 4 of the Showtime drama:
Since Masters of Sex began, a well-trodden routine has formulated between the duo at the helm of the Masters and Johnson Institute. Bill makes a wrong-headed attempt to deepen the emotional component of his sexual relationship with Virginia, she pushes back by rejecting his advances and/or hooking up with some random guy who she has no real intention of committing to, he in turn feels rejected and freezes her out of the work until one or the other of them puts the effort in to build bridges. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
However, what happened at the end of Season 3 – Virginia leaving with perfume magnate, Dan Logan (Josh Charles), after Bill finally admitted he’s in love with her – has the potential to break the monotony. In that moment during the finale where our uptight, control freak protagonist asks the taxi driver to pull over midway through his race to the airport to stop her from leaving, allowing her to live the life she wants and thus giving in to the catastrophe that is his personal and work life, he becomes the most likeable and human he’s ever been. It’s a huge step for a man who’s slowly been transforming ever since he first laid eyes on his would-be secretary/assistant/partner, and one that has the potential to shake up their whole dynamic, professionally and romantically, because let’s be honest, this obviously wasn’t the end for Masters and Johnson or there wouldn’t be a Season 4. After confessing his affair to Libby and effectively ending his marriage, wouldn’t it be refreshing if a newly single Bill was the one who was chased by Virginia, and not the one doing most of the chasing?
Libby Deserves Some Happiness
Speaking of Bill ending his marriage to Libby, if anyone deserves a break, it’s her. After tragically losing her lover and fellow civil rights activist, Robert, to a car accident, it looked like she was going to have a second shot at happiness with her neighbour, Paul. That all fell through when Bill was accused of improper behaviour with the boy who’d been bullying their son, leading her to decide that it was the wrong time to extricate herself from her husband and run away. Annoyed at her decision, Paul simply disappeared. Hopefully Season 4 will finally see Libby come into her own and cast off the toxic remnants of her relationship with Bill, allowing her to establish an identity that’s openly more than just her role as a Mother and an extension of her estranged husband.
There can never be enough Betty. It’s a truth I realised way back in the Pilot when she told Bill that faking orgasms during sex was a common denominator amongst the female population and not just prostitutes. I know extending her presence in the show might be difficult with Annaleigh Ashford’s pregnancy, but Betty’s confrontation with Bill last season when he accused her of overstepping the mark by bringing her private life into work when her girlfriend, Helen, posed as Austin’s wife for fertility treatment was riveting proof that she’s an essential part of the show. I mean how would the Institute even function without her?! I don’t care if they have to hide her behind counters or desks for most of the season, just make it so!
Bill and Gini Need New Sounding Boards
I’ve long lamented Lillian’s demise. I believe even Michelle Ashford came to regret the decision to have Gini’s one-time boss take her own life mid-way through Season 2 as well. Why? Because the character provided a much needed sounding board for Virginia, and a respected opinion from a third party who wasn’t directly involved with her relationship with Bill. That’s in spite of their marked differences and initial animosity that turned into a firm friendship. To an extent, both Gini and Bill still have a confidant of sorts in Betty, but her involvement in the clinic compromises the advice she’s capable of giving them. Similarly, now that Barton is a part of their set-up, he doesn’t necessarily have the same level of impartiality he once used to have when doling out pearls of wisdom to his former protege. It’d be nice to see the pair of them form new attachments to people who have suitable distance from their professional and personal lives to offer them sound guidance and a sympathetic ear.
There’s no getting around the fact that being forced to invent baby Lisa to avoid issues with the Masters and Johnson estate was more than a little disruptive to the storytelling. Sometimes it made little to no sense where the child actually was. That said, now that the baby-shaped elephant in the room is here, I don’t necessarily want her to be sent to this show’s version of Mandyville. They set up the possibility of Bill being some sort of father figure to her, so let’s see if he is capable of that at the same time as building bridges with his own children now that his marriage is over. Likewise, there’s a lot of unfinished business between Gini and her two older kids, particularly Tessa who kept on trying to connect with her Mother, but was repeatedly swept aside by the drama in the sex researcher’s private life. Whilst I don’t really want or expect this to be the main focus in Season 4, on a more general note, it’d be great to see how their nuclear families evolve and if members of their extended families once again make an appearance. Virginia has some demons to face regarding her own mother, and I really hope Bill’s brother, Frank, reappears at some point so they can reconcile properly.
No More Trips to the Zoo
Sometimes you watch something so outlandish in a show that you wonder if you have in fact banged your head and are currently hallucinating a stranger parallel universe. Bill taking on the case of a gorilla who had become sexually attracted to one of his human keepers at a local zoo, which culminated in Virginia being fondled by the ‘patient’, was one such instance. I get that it’s in the show’s DNA to be edgy. It comes with the territory. Nevertheless, I draw the line at borderline bestiality. For the love of God, can we please not go there again?!
So what would you like to see in Season 4? Let us know in the comments…