Season Analysis: Masters of Sex proved to be quite sexy in its first season, despite taking the most clinical approach to orgasms and the like. The thing is, when you are interested and as passionate about the boudoir as Dr. William Masters is, there is no way to not be sexy. Also adding to the sex appeal were some sensational actors bringing fascinating historical characters to life.
Julianne Nicholson was the secret weapon of Masters of Sex Season 1. The show could have very easily worked as only scenes of Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan sparring and making verbal and physical love, but it needed a solid supporting cast to take it to the next level. And Nicholson’s character, Dr. Lillian DePaul, could have easily just been an antagonist, serving as a roadblock to Bill Masters’ research because she couldn’t see the big picture. She would have been a sympathetic antagonist, as she had a legitimate beef over not being taken as seriously as her male colleagues. But “Phallic Victories” kicked things into high gear by having Caplan’s Virginia Johnson declare, to hell with double standards! Lillian, woman or no, favoritism or no, needed to present her research with the same zeal and attention-grabbing as Bill Masters. This revelation led only to a small victory initially, but it was satisfactory, thus setting up the perfect narrative occasion to fully humanize Lillian, as she revealed that the cervical cancer she had previously fought off had now returned beyond the point of treatment. This critical moment put a huge personal face on the stakes of the subject matter that Masters of Sex insists be taken seriously by everyone.