Sex may still be considered a taboo topic in America today, but 60 years ago many were completely in the dark about what was going on “down there.” Researchers Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson pushed to relate activity between the legs to activity between the ears with the science of sex. This true story gets a compelling retelling on Masters of Sex (Season Premiere, 10 p.m. Sunday, Showtime), starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan as the pioneering team.
A quick Googling of Masters and Johnson reveals the duo’s outcome as scientists and lovers, but it’s not the conclusion we care about as much as what they did to get there. Both had to go to great lengths, risking their reputations, jobs and relationships to study human sexuality during a time when it was believed the female orgasm was merely a myth and — as seen in a humorous scene last season — some couples thought literally lying together (as it’s described in the Bible) could result in pregnancy. Masters of Sex is an interesting bit of history, dressed up in the lush wrapping of the 1950s landscape.
After Masters’ firing from Washington University following the presentation of his research, Season Two ensues with him and Johnson continuing their partnership outside the hospital and in a hotel. Without lab rooms, wires and timers, this research begins to seem a lot more like a tryst. In the opener, Libby Masters pushes her husband to find a new job to support their growing family (one that preferably doesn’t involve watching women pleasure themselves with Odysseus the magic wand) and Masters finds support from a doctor with questionable motives.
WEDNESDAY JULY 9
Brew Dogs (9 p.m., Esquire) – The dogs head to Las Vegas to concoct the most expensive beer in the world.
Wilfred (10 p.m., FXX) – Wilfred receives unsettling results after being observed for a scientific survey.
The Bridge (Season Premiere, 10 p.m., FX) – Season Two widens its scope from the hunt for one serial killer in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua to an expanded view of the Mexican-American boarder.
The premiere looks at Sonya’s relationship with the brother of her sister’s killer and Marco’s acclimation to life without his wife and son.
THURSDAY JULY 10
Welcome to Sweden (Series Premiere, 9 p.m., NBC) – Based on the real-life experiences of creator/star Greg Poehler (Amy’s baby bro), this new comedy follows a New York accountant as he quits his job and moves to Sweden with his girlfriend. Lena Olin and Patrick Duffy also star.
Working the Engels (Series Premiere, 9:30 p.m., NBC) – In wake of the family patriarch/breadwinner’s death, the Engels come together to run his storefront law firm — despite just one of the four having any semblance of experience. The youngest Engle (Kacey Rohl, Hannibal’s Abigail Hobbs) must wrangle her older siblings and mother in order to keep the family above water in this debut comedy.
SUNDAY JULY 13
True Blood (9 p.m., HBO) – True Blood’s body count just keeps on rising: Tara, Alcide, Maxine Fortenberry (OK, screw her). But this week’s episode title, “Death Is Not the End,” paired with the show’s blatant disregard for coherent storytelling just might mean we don’t have to say goodbye quite yet. Just kidding — more characters are probably going to die this week.
Ray Donovan (Season Premiere, 9 p.m., Showtime) – Hollywood’s Boston-bred “fixer” to the stars returns in a much more vulnerable position than we’ve seen him, coping with the long-repressed sexual abuse from his childhood and working on his marriage. But it’s back to business when the FBI demands Mickey’s return from Mexico.The Leftovers (10 p.m. Sunday, HBO) – This week focuses on Matt Jamison: Mapleton reverend and zine publisher who is convinced the Sudden Departure was no Rapture. Jamison takes drastic measures as he struggles to cope with low service attendance, the impending loss of his church to foreclosure and threats on his life as he proclaims the sins of those who vanished.
The Strain (Series Premiere, 10 p.m., FX) – When a plane lands in New York City with a cabin full of dead passengers, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather investigates. This new Guillermo del Toro drama borrows from zombie, vampire and outbreak mythos for a new strain of horror.
TUESDAY JULY 15
Nathan For You (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) – Nathan convinces a pet shop to advertise in an animal cemetery.
CONTACT JAC KERN: firstname.lastname@example.org or @jackern