Hung: “Doris is Dead”, or “Are We Rich or Are We Poor?”
Posted by therebelprince on August 12, 2009
We’re into the middle of the season, so there’s a lot of plot but not a lot of rumination this week. Ray’s relationship with Jemma (Natalie Zea) is centre stage this week. It starts off wonderfully comedically, with a session that turns out to be marriage counselling. The counsellor (Erick Avari) just sits there shocked as Jemma makes up an entire broken relationship, and all the reasons that it’s Ray’s fault. She is, as Tanya put it last week, incredibly fucked up.
But it’s too late, and Ray is doing what so many of us have done in similar situations. Despite the fact that he knows she’s not good for him, he’s falling for her primarily because of a need to “fix” her. The minute Jemma starts introducing their real lives into the relationship, Ray is hesitant but willing to provide her with details. Later, whenJemma shows up at a Wolves game, he feels both nervous and self-conscious: he has feelings for her. Tanya sees that this isn’t a great road to be going down, but she can’t get through to Ray.
Tanya herself is steadily sinking. She’s feeling that need to get out of the house, but her only social life outside of novelty baked goods is Ray – and she can’t even be honest with people about how she knows him. Hung is slowly seeding relationships between characters – here, Tanya meets Damon and subsequently Jessica – but I’d be hard pressed to guess where they’re going to end up.
For her part, Jessica gets quite a shock when she and her mother snoop around Eddie’s private files: it appears that he lost a lot more money than they thought, and Jessica may have to face the realisation that she needs to – gasp! – get a job. It’s nice to see some genuine, if slow, development for Jessica and for Damon, who comes out of his shell a little in the presence of Tanya, a new person.
There’s little else to say, as we’re into the plot grind that comes mid-season. But suffice it to say, Jessica is eventually going to start putting the pieces together, but Ray is undoubtedly going to have bigger problems on his hands as Jemma infiltrates his life further.
You know, I didn’t have anything else to say until I read a couple of other reviews. One finds the show eminently forgettable while the other comments on the fact that it’s hard to find much to say about it. So, I felt like I should reply to these claims. I certainly agree with the second: the show’s performances are solid, but no one is being given A+ material which makes them standout (Jane Adams has had a bit). And it’s not really attempting to make any points like Nurse Jackie does, or to work with the kind of broad canvas that True Blood has been. (Although, I’d argue True Blood is an example of a show which struggled through a cheaply characterised first season to make it to a much more enjoyable second, so perhaps that’s what Hung is?)
I think, more importantly, this show is still laying the groundwork. Other HBO shows like The Sopranos and The Wire (NOT that I’m comparing them to Hung!) had first seasons which in retrospect are amazingly quiet and self-contained compared to their much larger structures in subsequent seasons. Similarly, here, Hung isn’t rushing to connect all the dots in Ray’s life just yet: it’s giving us a slow simmer of storylines here. I don’t think this is fence-sitting, but rather the approach of this character-oriented drama, though I can see how this isn’t the show some people were after. Rest assured that we will get Ray having surprising/embarrassing/quirky liaisons with clients. But we’re also going to get a man who’s taking a slow foray into the world of prostitution. Despite the show’s gimmicky title and advertising, this isn’t Deuce Bigalow – and thank God!
In the end, I’m willing to stick with the show. I’m enjoying it and while I’m not in love with it, I like the characters and I appreciate the quiet approach the show is taking. Is it deliberate or just poor pacing? I guess only time will tell. (And if that sounds like fence-sitting, it probably is…)