"There are moments in your life when you realize God is joking." -RayTen episodes is not a lot, even for a cable show. Fans of "The Wire" know exactly how much more rushed a 10-episode season can feel versus 12 or 13. So I don't want to be too hard on the "Hung" finale, and the first season in general, knowing what Dmitry Lipkin, Colette Burson and company had to work with. But...
Part of the reason I gave this show a favorable review at the start, why I've stayed interested in it, and why I defended it when people asked me, incredulous, why I liked it, was that I felt it was going somewhere. Remember, I wrote my initial column having seen through the Margo Martindale episode, which suggested a progression both in Ray's escort career and in the show's style in general.
But I came out of the finale feeling very underwhelmed, as if I'd been expecting more than the show was capable of delivering. The story moved a fair bit at the very end - Ray now has to focus almost entirely on the escort job, Tanya and Lenore are reluctant co-pimps - and yet when the episode finished, my reaction was mainly, "That's all there is?"
To bring up "Breaking Bad" for the thousandth time, there's a show that had an even shorter first season (due to the writers strike) and yet it felt like the story advanced enough, and the characters grew enough, that the journey felt satisfying and I was eager to see more. Here, it feels like there's a good premise and two strong central performances from Thomas Jane and Jane Adams, but the season feels empty looking back on it. (I could say the same thing about Lipkin's previous show, "The Riches," though I like "Hung" quite a bit more.) The final scene suggested that Tanya is going to try to unleash her inner Lenore next year, and I look forward to seeing that, but even as a fan of slow-build shows like "The Wire" and "Breaking Bad," this season was too leisurely for me.
That said, the finale had that one great scene with Ray and Jess on the phone, on opposite sides of the door to her hotel room, both knowing that Jess was about to engage the services of a hooker, but only Ray knowing that it would be him - and despairing at the realization that their lives had come to this point. If Anne Heche wasn't as good at dialed-down emotional moments like this, her exaggerated daffiness the rest of the time wouldn't bug me as much. (Okay, it would still bug me, but it wouldn't seem like she was wasting her real talent.) And Thomas Jane, as you'd expect, nailed it.
I'm still looking forward to next season (which will air again in the summer, where viewing options will be fewer). But I'd be looking forward to it a lot more if the finish to this season had felt stronger, and if I had a clearer sense of where this was all going.
What did everybody else think?