It is, in fact, HBO
So, I’ve been doing this blog for less than two days and I’m already going to veer off topic. But on the advice of a good friend who also happens to be a publicist at HBO, I and two friends spent last night watching the first three episodes of the premium network’s new drama, Tell Me You Love Me. Well, we watched three and then they left and I watched two more.
During the pilot, all of us, at one point or another, covered our eyes due to the very graphic sex — and I’m talking full frontal and bodily fluids, the works. Afterwards, we all agreed that we found the show depressing and real and most of the characters annoying, and then we decided to watch another episode. After that, we agreed that we still felt the aforementioned feelings, and then took a vote, and decided wanted to watch a third. The more we watched the more compelled we were to keep watching.
After they left, I watched two more.
What that tells me is that even though Tell Me You Love Me is disturbing and depressing it’s also completely compelling. It tackles a topic everyone finds interesting — the bizarre and difficult and exalted state of couple-hood – and then lets the viewers see relationship dynamics in a way they never get to in real life, except when it comes to their own.
That’s where the show gets uncomfortable. Invariably you end up comparing these people’s relationships with your own or those of your friends or your parents and thinking “hey, I’m doing pretty good,” or “whoa, I’m that guy and that ain’t good.”
The show essentially focuses on two couples and one woman who starts out as a couple but very quickly ends up back on her own. One couple is trying to get pregnant and having problems, which is making her crazy and obsessed and him crazy and confused. Another has children that they love, but all the heat – and thus the sex – has left their marriage. And the third are the young couple in love but insecurity and underlying issues quickly unravel them.
At the center of all these people is a couple’s counselor, Dr. May Foster, played by Jane Alexander as grounded, wise and objective. Foster is familiar with the paradise and pitfalls of love, having been married herself for 43 years.
At first, the show seems to be way too much about sex. The young couple fights, and makes up by having sex in the front seat of his car in full daylight. The couple-that-can’t-get-pregnant never seems to talk but they also never stop copulating. After the first episode, you are already so bored of watching these people fornicate you can’t imagine why they would still be bothering. We’re even treated to scenes of Dr. Foster and her husband getting it on.
Happily, the graphic nature of the pilot tapers off considerably in future episodes, and the stories gain in depth. To me, and I am certainly not an expert other than the fact that I watch lots of TV and movies, this show’s triumph is the acting. The writing is also great, especially so because you don’t really notice it. It’s not like Milch or Mamet: people talk here as you would expect them to.
I expect that this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I didn’t think it was mine either, but sitting on my couch at 1 a.m. after five episodes, I realized I was hooked.