'Hung' is the Best Show on Television ... About Dicks
by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Jun 25th 2010 5:00PM
With so many shows about male genitalia ('The Bachelorette,' 'Entourage,' 'Cake Boss') it's difficult to sift through them all and find the cream of the crop. Well, sift no longer because HBO's 'Hung' blows them all away ... and if you're waiting for a third penis pun, here it is: The show is kind of weird when you first see it, but when you realize what it's trying to do, it feels good.
So, what is 'Hung' trying to do? It could easily be a show about a guy with a huge male member who has lots of meaningless sex, working out his issues through limitless coitus, ending each episode with some ridiculous quip far worse than the ones you've read as recently as the last paragraph. Something like: "With a dick like this, who needs vaginas?" That show I just described would be hugely popular but as hollow as a chocolate Easter bunny, and recently television, especially HBO, hasn't been interested in hollow.
Instead, 'Hung,' which returns for its second season Sun., June 27 at 10PM ET, explores human sexuality in an extremely unique and poignant manner. Male prostitute Ray Drecker (Tom Jane) serves as a sort of cautionary tale for those high school jocks turned frat boys turned guys working at a car wash at age 40 because their abs and hair and dignity left them years ago. That guy needs his beer can to change color in order to know when it's cold, what are the odds of him understanding women (who are generally NOT cold activated)? I mean really maintaining an interest in more than T&A, and approaching women from a position of humility and respect in order to be happy.
Ray's "relationships" with all his "suitors" can be seen as naive attempts at understanding, and they grow less naive and more meaningful as the series approaches its second season. Being a chauvinistic pig just doesn't cut it anymore.
The women on 'Hung' not only recognize this shift in sexual power, they fill the gap vacated by Ray's withering misogyny. Tanya Skagle (Jane Adams) is far from what our culture would deem "hot" or "a 10," and this is no knock on Jane Adams, who was awesome as the girl Jack Black bangs in the Stanford admissions office as it burns to the ground in the movie, 'Orange County.'
Tanya has to be the anti-hottie, a woman with brains and a soul and real breasts in order to assume sexual power through pimping out Ray. It's less about the money for her than it is about finding her self-esteem and strength through the vulnerability of her ho. In fact, when hot-box Lenore (Rebecca Creskoff) tries to take over for Tanya, the dynamics completely shift back to more predictable notions of sexual politics. She becomes just another Samantha Jones of 'Sex and the City' "fame."
In a world where women seemingly want to do everything without a man, and men just enjoy pointing and laughing at those women, 'Hung' focuses on the need for both sexes to draw power from each other in an exchange, rather than a battle ... and that should be like televisual Viagra, keeping everyone aroused for an uncomfortable amount of time.
Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and he likes your smile! You can also check out his blog at drvtv.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Vaughan/21931402981