Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tell Me You Love Me

HBO’s new show, Tell Me You Love Me, is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Its graphic depictions of sex are garnering a lot of "can they really do that on TV?" responses, but what the show really succeeds in doing is presenting the awkward parts of relationships.

The show, created by Cynthia Mort (Roseanne), centers around 3 couples, who are experiencing problems in each of their relationships. On the surface, it sounds like your usual drama. But being on HBO, you know there has to be a spin.

And boy is there a spin.

The show is uncensored, very uncensored, and at times comes off as soft-core porn. During sex scenes, you’ll be wondering if the actors involved are really having sex. But rest assured. Even though it looks for real, it’s not. And that’s what makes TMYLM different from any other drama to be on television. It doesn’t hold back at all.

And even when there aren’t any on-screen hand-jobs being given to the point of ejaculation (even though it’s a prosthetic penis), the show remains very raw.

David and Katie are a long married couple with children. They also haven’t had sex in almost a year. David is a loving husband, but he just doesn’t want to have sex with his wife. Instead, he’d rather wait until his wife is in the shower and pleasure himself. Katie, meanwhile, is teetering on the edge of depression because of this lack of sex, even though David is a perfectly capable husband in every other sense of the word.

Palek and Carolyn are married and having lots of sex, but only because Carolyn wants kids. Bad. So much so that she’s turned Palek off to sex. It may have been cute on Friends when Monica badgered Chandler into having sex with her when she was ovulating, but here, it’s downright disturbing to see Palek go from horny 30-ish man to someone who realizes he’s being used and that all the fun has been drained from sex.

And rounding out the trifecta of depressing couples is Josh and Jaime who are having lots of sex too, but they are not married. They’re engaged. But when Josh is brutally honest with Jaime, admitting that he’ll more than likely be attracted to another woman during their marriage, Jaime freaks out and calls off the wedding.

Even more disturbing than some of the graphic sex scenes is the emotional wasteland that most of these characters live in. David and Katie are most uncomfortable couple to watch on screen, their faces showing their feelings, but their mouths unable to speak them. So instead of talking through their problems before they go to bed, they simply turn their backs on one another and fall asleep unsatisfied in more ways than one.

And that is something that we all can relate too. Watching this show I couldn’t help but relate to some of the situations on screen, and feeling guilty that I have allowed my feelings to fester at times, instead of talking through them with my wife. And because of this, I’ve experienced some uncomfortable mornings before work. No marriage is perfect, but there is always room for improvement, whether it’s on-screen or in real life. And if this show gets one couple to address its problems, it's been a success in my opinion.

And that’s what makes TMYLM so good, it doesn’t hold back in any area. It addresses relationships head-on, whether it is a subtle facial expression of hurt that says more than words could ever say, or a no holds barred sex scene.

It may make some people uncomfortable. The sex scenes are shocking, but even more disturbing, is the sadness that these couples constantly wallow through. TMYLM is very relatable, very personal. And like the couples featured on the show, hopefully the couples watching, can survive it.

SHOW RATING: *** (out of ****)
BEST PART: Unflinching look at couples' lives, ie, the sex.
STATUS: Shocking, yet relevant show. It's definitely not porn.

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