“Hung”, Season 1
A Useful Asset
HBO’s mini-series “Hung” builds slowly but once you get into it, it is really quite good. Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane) is a basketball coach whose life is not going well. He can’t win a game and his wife, Jessica (Anne Heche), left him. His adolescent twins are annoying kids, his home has just burned down and he gets harassment from his neighbor. He lives in Detroit which is hurting because of what is happening in the automobile business. He sees a way out by joining forces with Tanya (Jane Adams), a poet/pimp with whom he once had an affair and becomes a male prostitute. It seems that Ray Drecker has one huge anatomical asset that makes him well suited for this kind of work. Tanya decides to market him as a marriage consultant and she tries to find clients for him while he sleeps in a tent until he can move back into his charred house. He manages to maintain some kind of relationship with his twins, Damon (Charlie Saxton) and Darby (Sianoa Smit-McPhee). He is also busy waging war against his neighbor.
The first season comes to life rather erratically. Do not be misled, however—this series is not all about sex but rather looks at economic imperatives and uncongenial friendships. I personally like the character development but by and large I found the show seemed to lose focus and as clever as the actors are and the characters are drawn, there is really not much they can do without a good script. The characters have a code of morality that is clearly questionable but we must understand that the sex scenes are played mainly for laughs. What seems to be a comedy about sex at first glance is really about work and economics and the way one identifies with the job that he has. The basic concept that Tanya and Roy can make a lot of money in the flesh trade may be a bit off. To be a sex star does not necessarily mean that someone will get rich.
All in all, the show is funny and the lead players are excellent as those wash out and hung to dry by a system yet fighting back in their own way. Even if you find the characters a tad repulsive, they are worth following.