Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hung, "Doris Is Dead; Are We Rich or Are We Poor?": Fantasy becomes reality

Quick spoilers for tonight's "Hung" coming up just as soon as I suffer fools gladly...
"And suddenly, I wanted to win. I wanted to win while she watched." -Ray
It's a cliche of stories about prostitutes -- let's call it Pretty Woman Syndrome -- that the whores all dream of finding a rich, handsome, kind john who will whisk them away from this awful life. This storyline with Jemma isn't exactly the gender-flipped version of that, but it's similar.

What we're seeing is Ray's continued struggle to accept the realities of the business he has chosen. He seems startled when Jemma agrees that he's a whore, thinks nothing of revealing his true identity to her, and even offers to stop charging her. It's one thing for him, it seems, to play the part of the escort when the client looks like Margo Martindale -- when there would be no chance of intimacy outside of this professional arrangement. But when she looks like Jemma, and when the games Jemma plays start to turn Ray on, then... well, then Ray starts acting like she's his girlfriend. And that's dangerous territory, whether or not Jemma (who's crazier than Ray wants to admit) decides to reveal his secret identity to the world.

But while his fixation on Jemma isn't smart, or emotionally healthy, it did have the odd benefit of making him a better basketball coach for a few minutes. Actually, we've seen for a few episodes now that when Ray's side career is going well, it seems to bleed into his regular life, making him happier, more confident and simply better.

As with "Do It, Monkey," Ray's struggle to play along with Jemma's fantasies -- particularly the couples therapy scene -- helped keep the comedy quotient high, as did Tanya's predictably sad attempt to enforce the rules of her agency. Not that I want to make the "Breaking Bad" comparisons every week (especially since Colette Burson said at press tour that she's interested in different things than that show), but in the context of that show and the performance of Bryan Cranston, I can come to believe that a dweeb like Walt White could turn into a physically intimidating criminal genius. On this lighter show, with the funny but intentionally pathetic performance of Jane Adams, I can't envision a future where Tanya is putting the fear of God into clients with her pimp hand. So either she's going to have to come up with a more clever method of enforcing the rules, or she's going to have to hire some muscle (or have Ray take on some of the pimping duties).

One final note: Tanya meets Ray's family, and makes a comment about how she can kinda/sorta/maybe see the resemblance between Ray and Damon. So while the cast and producers are sensitive to complaints about the casting of the two kids (mainly because you can read an undercurrent of "why aren't they better-looking?" to those complaints, whether it's intended or not), clearly it's something they're aware of as well, and willing to acknowledge within the context of the show.

What did everybody else think?

27 comments:

Mark said...

I cringed when at dinner Ray broke down and told her about his real life. That is SOOOOO going to bite him in the ass. I also like how this show does a good job of showing the Detroit area is not quite as bad as most beleive it to be.

Andrew said...

I feel like they rushed the relationship with Gemma a bit. Yes, she is hot, and Ray is clearly getting off on their game as much as she is, but I think they needed another episode to establish him falling before going all in like he did. He isn't deep enough with her for me to buy his change.

That said, I really enjoyed how the whole sequence at the game went. From the awkward arrival of Tonya and her sitting with the family to the arrival of Gemma and the inspirational speech (and I know how much Alan loves his sports cliches. All they needed was a slow clap...) but I think it might have been a bit more effective if it had been capped by Ray and Gemma sharing a look rather than a kiss. I guess I just wasn't ready for it to go that far that fast.

TimmyD said...

Ray needs to learn about Barney Stinson's Crazy/Hot scale.

Rebecca said...

I have to say, as regards the "kids don't look like parents" discussion: I don't find Anne Heche or Thomas Jane particularly attractive. Concerning the kids, I think they're both laden with LOTS of adolescent angst trappings. Personally, I think Darby is cute (though badly dressed) and Damon would be cute if not for his terrible hair.

So, like Alan, I don't understand why the kids don't look like the parents, but I see no reason for this to be a "the kids are ugly!" issue. Simply put, the kids and parents look NOTHING alike, and while TV families tend to stretch the limits, this one is particularly weird.

dez said...

@TimmyD, yes! This is so going to come back and haunt Ray, worse than Lenore stealing his wallet and running up his credit.

I could see Ray falling for Jemma this quickly. Hell, his house already fell apart, his neighbor's a jerk, and his job isn't going the way he thought it would. So, he *makes* it go the way he thought it would, by getting a hot client and then falling for her. This is not going to end well for him.

Tyroc said...

I'm gonna give it one more episode. Really slooooooooooooooooow for me. Not sure why they call this a comedy.

Anonymous said...

Because there's this new trend of shows that are heavily comedic but full with drama. They're not the traditional comedy sitcom nor are they the traditional drama.

But it's like saying Breaking Bad was ever a comedy. It wasn't. It's a drama.

This show, depending on the episode watch, feels like a drama or a comedy. It straddles the line.

I can see Tonya laying the pimp hand down rather hand if Ray becomes hurt emotionally or if they are seriously threatened. I just want them to make it funny when she does, not full of seriousness.

iffer said...

been watching the show mostly as background and the basketball game was the first time i felt invested -- i sat up and payed attention and i wanted them to win and i wanted ray to win

on a side note maybe it is the vastly lowered expectations but i actually laughed out loud several times during entourage tonight

Anonymous said...

I find the story pretty interesting. And I'm not particularly worried about whether is a drama or a comedy. It's a story and that's what counts.

Andrew said...

Iffer - Me too! I give most of the credit to Jeffrey Tambor, but even Drama and Turtle gave me a chuckle, not to mention Ari whacking Lloyd with a golf club.

Who'd have thunk it?

Otto Man said...

Does anyone know why the show uses two titles per episode, with the semicolon? Just seems odd.

Rinaldo said...

However much it may be intended to be a wink-wink at sports-movie cliches, I still groan every time a coach pulls out the "play from the heart" inspirational speech. Does it ever NOT work? Which is BS. Because a corny speech does nothing to make up for bad technique and bad preparation and lack of ability, which all have vastly more to do with why teams lose.

Anonymous said...

Should we set our watches to just how quickly the Jemma "relationship" is going to implode (or is it explode) and leave goo all over the walls? The woman is a bit - if not a lot - crazy, and she also is exceptionally manipulative. In that way, she isn't much better than Lenore - from whom the recommendation came - just less crass about her manipulation and crazy. Tanya needs to find a new source of referrals, and Ray needs to learn some hard lessons about getting too close to the client.

dez said...

I expect Jemma will crush Ray with her Crazy, and he'll have a new appreciation for clients like Molly. And for Tanya for trying to keep him from getting too involved in the first place.

Groovymarlin said...

If there's an undercurrent of "the kids aren't (traditionally) good-looking enough" to the comments people make about the casting of Ray's kids, then the people making those comments suck! One of the (many) things I love about this show are how normal Ray's kids look. Like real teenagers; not some airbrushed, glamazon refugees from all the High School Musical movies! I especially like Damon so far, and I hope they do more with his character.

And btw, that Gemma is five kinds of crazy, ain't she?

dez said...

I think we will see more of Damon, based on his nascent crush on Tanya, if nothing else.

I liked that Anne Heche's character (Jessica?) returned to doing "simple things" with her kids such as attending Ray's games since she found out her hubby lost $800k+. Yowch.

Anonymous said...

cane face facts? the kids are unattractive. and its prob on purpose since u would figure that ray n anne heche would have good looking kids.

Chip said...

Man I hate every character on this show except Ray, Lenore, and now Jemma. I'm enjoying this storyline except it wouldve been nice if they held it for awhile and we saw a couple more eps of Ray doing normal man-ho work. More Lenore and more crazy Jemma scenarios and I might actually start to like this show.

Anonymous said...

The kids look and act like real actual kids.

Everyone should just get over the fact that the producers aren't interested in a retread of Dawson's One Tree OC.

Tyroc said...

My problem with the kids isn't at all how they look, but just that it feels as if Ray is just now meeting them and trying to be a part of their lives for the first time, as opposed to his having been there all along and them all actually knowing one another. (That's the writing, not the actors.)

And as such, it feels like a different show when they're on screen, and not as good a show as when its purely the adults and focused on how Ray deals with his new occupation.

Contrastingly, on "United States of Tara" the kids felt real, as did their relationship with their parents. It all felt of a piece (and was the best part of the show for me.) Much more so than the cartoony multiple personality stuff.

On that show the high concept gimmick was the least interesting part, while on Hung its the only part I'm caring about so far ("regular guy who is well endowed becomes prostitute to make extra cash".)

Anonymous said...

I felt the awkwardness in this episode much more keenly than in previous ones. Tanya's confrontation with Jemma was just painful to watch for me. I just hope she does get her moment of triumph over Jemma somewhere down the line.

And I like the kids. The moment between Tanya and Damon felt real to me, though I agree the relationship with Ray doesn't quite feel as natural as it should.

I liked that Anne Heche's character (Jessica?) returned to doing "simple things" with her kids such as attending Ray's games since she found out her hubby lost $800k+. Yowch.

Of course, if I am following the show correctly, that means that her husband still has over a million dollars invested that he didn't lose, since he claims they lost forty percent ...

Otto Man said...

The point with the kids isn't that they aren't 90210 castoffs with perfect looks -- I like that they aren't, I applaud the fact that they look like real kids.

The point is that they seem to have little resemblance to either of their parents. Period.

This isn't about lookism or whatever you seem to think it is. It's about the realism of the casting.

dez said...

Of course, if I am following the show correctly, that means that her husband still has over a million dollars invested that he didn't lose, since he claims they lost forty percent ...

I wasn't sure how to take his "Thirty percent? Forty percent?" comment. Does he have so much money that he really doesn't know how much he lost, percentage-wise, or is he lying to cover up the fact that he lost almost everything? He was the one pushing for cost-cutting, so either he's panicking because they've lost too much, or he's a gold-hoarding dragon and losing one coin is losing too much for him.

Another thing about the hubby--if he's willing to give his wife botox to smooth out her wrinkles, you'd think he'd suggest she get a better hairdo than that limp dishrag look she's been sporting so far :-D

Anonymous said...

To take it one step further with the kids - I think the problem is that they seem to look alike and, yet, look nothing like the parents. From the very first episode my wife and I were both wondering if the kids were adopted, the mailman's etc.

They are believable as brother and sister, but not as the offspring of their parents. As I see it, this is what causes the (admittedly minor) 'problem'.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the show's portrait of Detroit and environs, how long until the blogosphere rises in one of its periodic fits of Atticus Finch-esque rage to denounce Hung and its pretty-much-white Detroit area as racist and classist?

Mike F said...

first truly enjoyable episode for me all the way through...LOVED the concept of her hiring him to go to couples therapy with her...and the whole episode rang true to me in a way the show hadn't before in terms of the characters behaving the way they should

hoping they stay on a roll...if the show is this much fun every week, I'll be delighted...that said, I'm not optimistic that will happen

vic said...

Funny, but even though I loved this episode, for once I'm kinda lost for words.

I do have one thing to say though. Really, the kids on United States of Tara are more "normal"? I adore the show, but the kids are way more confident and outspoken than would be their real world counterparts. To me, the kids on Hung seem like the most real kids on television, not only their looks, but their overall apathy towards life, which seems all too common right now.