Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tell Me You Love Me: Love, sex and death

Some brief thoughts on the "Tell Me You Love Me" finale coming right up...

As mentioned ad nauseum by me in the past, I watched all 10 episodes in one short burst in late June, so the longer the actual series has been on, the hazier my recollections have become. I rewatched parts of the finale On Demand the other day just as a refresher, but my insights aren't going to be nearly as sharp as those of you who've been watching it on a regular basis. Taking it couple-to-couple:

Katie & Dave: On the one hand, this story was consistently the strongest part of the show -- at times, the only reason I kept watching -- Ally Walker and Tim DeKay acted the hell out of every scene, and the two of them finally resuming some physical intimacy was an appropriate, um, climax for both their story and this season. On the other, while I like the decision to not have their moment be traditional copulation -- as Cynthia Mort told me when I interviewed her in July, she wanted it to stand out from all the other sex scenes they'd done -- the mutual masturbation pay-off didn't necessarily feel earned to me. I'm not saying the show ever needed to completely articulate all the reasons why Dave lost his libido and why Katie let him, but I also don't see their conflicts and therapy talk in this episode as being significantly different from arguments in earlier episodes that didn't lead them to the bedroom. Also, since they were a functional, happy couple in almost every way except the lack of sex, where does their story go now that the show's been renewed? I'm not saying their marriage will be perfect moving forward, but they won't have nearly as many issues to discuss with Dr. Foster as, say, Caroline and Palek. And speaking of which...

Caroline & Palek: To paraphrase Cartman, I hate them both. I hate them both so very, very much. Caroline's arguably the more horrifying of the two -- her rant about teaching the baby to hate Palek again made me think that the "Lost" producers missed the boat by not casting Sonya Walger as one of The Others -- but they really deserve to be miserable together. At the same time, I feel like a miscarriage is a missed opportunity now that the show is moving forward. I want to see Caroline discover that this thing she's been so obsessed with for so long isn't going to be the answer to all her prayers, isn't going to fill her with joy every minute of every day, and I want to see Palek grapple with the tug of paternity, the fear that he made a mistake by walking out on his wife and unborn kid, whatever. There were moments throughout the season where he seemed on the verge of actually being interested in having a child (the moon bounce, the scene at Radio Shack before the baby started crying), and those feelings no doubt would grow stronger in the face of a living, breathing baby. Having Palek return after a miscarriage will only lead us to retread territory we've been over before.

Jamie & Hugo: I'm sorry, who? Even though Jamie's sex life was the busiest and nakedest of any character on the show, there came a point in the season where it became impossible to watch her scenes without zoning out or grabbing the laptop or mentally trying to list the 12-man roster of the '93 Knicks. I like that Dr. Foster finally seemed to reach that point herself in the post-gas station therapy session, though she had a more legitimate reason to be distracted with the death of her ex-lover. Maybe Jamie's more interesting next year now that Hugo's fully in the picture and they have to deal with the repercussions of rusing to marriage five seconds after getting back together. God, I hope so.

What did everybody else think?

10 comments:

Teresa said...

I really enjoyed watching the couples work through their intimacy issues in this series. I found each episode compelling. I'm not on the Palek hate train; I find him quite intriguing. Carolyn is another story. Katie and Dave are wonderful characters. Jamie? Ugh.

Anyway, I didn't like the re-united ending to this season. It felt like a cop out. More ambiguity, please.

KevinR said...

Well, i didn't like Palek very much, but Carolyn is such a monster, I saw that as the defining nature of their relationship. I spent most of my time saving up ammo waiting for the psychic smackdown I knew she had coming. Just sayin'.

Jamie -- yeah, I've lived the sex-laden old-teenager broken relationship thing enough. Don't need to see that-plus-booty on TV. Fast forward.

And that brings us to Dave & Katie. I loved every minute of them. They're so obviously in love and trying like hell to figure out what's wrong with them. The only complaint, and it's tiny, is when she says "then leave me." and he says "fuck you", I was really hoping for a big have-it-all-out session. The fact that Katie just walked out and then there was sex... just seemed a little weird. But I'll take it - they certainly made the show.

lungfish said...

It's neck and neck between Palek and Carolyn. I think Palek's suit shopping sprees and him trashing Dave's car pushed him over the top though.

Why does it seem like most of the sex that takes place on this show is make-up sex?

Has HBO decided on bring this show back for another season?

AT said...

Maybe I missed something (or added something), but I thought the show suggested that Carolyn induced her own miscarriage (mysterious trip with her friend; her not quite well-feigned surprise at the doctor's office) in order to save her marriage. Which, to me, made her at least a more interesting monster.

Dennis Wilson said...

When this modern-day "Love Boat" returns for its second season, will the same three couples even be featured? It feels to me like their stories are over, and next year we'll start fresh with three new ones, probably including Dick Van Patten and Marion Ross.

paul c. said...

I ended up watching the show in bursts as well after saving them up on my Tivo. It did keep me watching, but after a while, this truly make me sick of most of the characters. Boy, Jamie was a waste of oxygen. And Carolyn and Palek weren't much better. I kept hoping that Carolyn would not succeed in procreating as any child condemned to have her as a mother is likely to end up with severe mental and emotional disorders.

Dave and Katie were definitely the heart of the show. They were the only likable patients, and their problems were the easiest to identify with. Though I have to say, what they seem to need most is that weekend at the hotel someone suggested with quite a bit of alcohol or some of Palek's pot. They both need to lighten up and get over their repressions.

I think that last bit is why the pay-off for their plot line didn't bother me that much. May told Katie early on that she needed to get in touch with her own sexuality. We saw her try and fail miserably in that early episode, and the final scene seemed to show progress.

I'm not sure what more there is to do with these couples next season. They were growing tiresome by the end of 10 hours (minus some fast-forwards). The prospect of another 10 with the same group is not particularly pleasant.

Jill said...

I tried to watch Episode 1 and decided these were not people I wanted to spend an hour with, let alone the whole season. Certainly not when DEXTER is on.

Joe Qwezar said...

I feel the characters and the show would be more compelling and interesting to watch if the show wasn't overshadowed by sex, and the explicit depiction of sex. It's a bold move and I understand why it's being used, a worthy attempt to achieve intimacy for the viewer and motive for the characters, but it becomes too voyeuristic and I feel it misses its mark after a while.

Cagey said...

Joe Qwezar hit the nail on the head.

I actually enjoyed this show once they got past all of the obvious sex scenes. My husband refused to watch this show with me because of all the gratuitous sex scenes. I think he would have enjoyed some of the conversations it could have sparked otherwise. I wonder how many others missed out on such a thoughtful show, too?

I am VERY curious about where they will take this show because I find it difficult to fathom that they will take these 3 couples forward. I would rather see them start over with 3 new couples.

I was also disappointed in the Palek/Carolyn story. It was the only story that kept me coming back because they actually "had a problem", so to speak. I wanted Carolyn to realize that having a baby would not solve her problems. Rather, I wanted parenthood to force her into facing her REAL problems in ways she could never have imagined otherwise - as parenthood often does to us.

Tassoula said...

Sure, Jamie's irritating, Hugo's dumb, Katie & Dave are sweet and Carolyn's a monster (though I don't share many of your opinions about Palek - I felt he was the victim and I liked him)...but why is no one talking about the most compelling character on the show?

May.

Here's a couples' counselor who has wrestled with her own relationship issues for God knows how long and was clearly never 100% sure she made the right decision.

I find her infidelity and grief over the loss of her former lover - and then her ability to dole out thoughtful advice to others - just as interesting as any of the other dynamics on the show.

Is there really anyone with all of the answers?

Of course not.