So I’ve been watching Hung on HBO.
The new series stars Thomas Jane (uh yeah from the Punisher) as Ray Drecker, a down and out former high school sports star turned loser high school basketball coach who gets into prostitution to support his family.
This show has all the trappings of an interesting series: the premise (a hetero male prostitute?? What!?), an array of supporting characters (pimp, family, ex-wife, neighbors, etc.), and the freedom of cable to show lots of nudity and sex.
Before seeing the show I imagined it was going to be about a "badass" dude who fucks a continuous litany of beautiful, rich models for lots of pay (basically a platform for HBO to show a ton of boobs*) But thankfully, the show seems to mostly steer clear of that empty trap.
I like the relationship between Drecker and his pimp, Tanya (played by the always brilliant Jane Adams). Messing around with the seemingly inherent gender roles of pimp and prostitute really made me stop and think about mainstream depictions of gender within the sex industry.
Hung is an interesting tongue-in-cheek reflection of our current society. The series is set in Detroit, the symbolic city of the modern depression and the characters are people doing illegal and unorthodox things to survive in a crumbling world.
The show does fail in some places, however. Drecker works with some clients with bizarre fantasies not necessarily related to sexuality. Some of these fantasies seem trite and made up and I would rather explore more realistic images of female sexuality than the stereotypical portrayal of the relationship-crazed woman.
This is a show about the sex industry from the perspective of the female consumer! There is a lot of unexplored territory here and yet at times the writing feels like it's falling back on age old, worn out cliches of female desire.
If it can clean itself up a bit and get down to business, Hung does have the potential to be an enthralling satirical narrative, much akin to Showtime's beloved Weeds or the fantastic True Blood. It seems it's too soon yet to tell just how big Hung could get.
check it out: