Masters of Sex has garnered much critical acclaim since it debuted in 2013. The show is loosely based on Thomas Maier’s biography Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught American How to Love. The series tells the story of brilliant Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and his assistant turned research partner Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan). Ahead of the third season of the show starting next month, the second season has been released on DVD giving fans a chance to catch-up or rewatch the season.
Season 2 of Masters of Sex picks up after the cliff-hanger finale of season 1 where Masters told Virginia that he couldn’t live without her as his wife Libby (Caitlin Fitzgerald) was going into labour. To say the relationship between Masters and Virginia was strained at the end of season 1 would be an understatement but after his confession the two begin to work together again under the guise that it’s for the good of the work they are trying to do together. In actuality Masters and Virginia are enjoying a secret affair but telling themselves that it’s all about their study. As the season opens Virginia is still working for Dr. DePaul (Julianne Nicholson) whilst Masters is trying to get his career back on track with a new job at Memorial Hospital.
For the most part, season 2 is a big period of change for the characters. Masters and Virginia resuming their work together takes their story in a few unexpected directions as they learn more about one another in the process. Masters has to try and learn to be a father to his child with Libby but he can’t find the enthusiasm or the fatherly instinct to do so. This of course causes problems in his marriage pushing Libby away and igniting a desire in her to contribute something to society other than just being the wife of an infamous doctor.
Some of the big storylines from the first season are put to bed in the season 2 opener Parallax such as Barton Scully (Beau Bridges) and his wife Margaret (Allison Janney) dealing with the former’s homosexuality. Ethan (Nicholas D’Agosto) is absent save for a voiceover in the opening episode following the demise of his relationship with Virginia and a job in a different state.
Plenty of new storylines kick-off though over the course of the season with feisty former prostitute Betty (Annaleigh Ashford) becoming part of Masters and Virginia’s study (but not in the way you might expect) and Austin’s (Teddy Sears) womanising ways bite him on the backside when he gets himself into a situation with diet pill seller Flo (Artemis Pebdani) that he struggles to get out of. Part way through the season there is a time jump that greatly changes Virginia and Masters’ course but to say any more about that would be to ruin it for you!
As with the first season of Masters of Sex, one of the best things about the show is the performance of Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. The two are fine actors and their chemistry together is magnificent. They both understand how to show the different layers of their complicated characters, and despite not always being likeable, you are always rooting for them. Also worth of note is Caitlin Fitzgerald who comes into her own in season 2 as Libby starts to lead a life independent of her unreliable and unaffectionate husband.
Masters of Sex: Season 2 is even better than the show’s first season. Things move along quite rapidly over the course of the season and the show makes you feel every kind of emotion. At the heart of it of course if the ongoing relationship of Masters and Virginia but the show has rich supporting characters that keep you invested even when they’re not on the screen. We’re already counting down the days to season 3.