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Masters of Sex: Dirty Jobs

“There’s a fence around Bill Masters—chain link with barbed wire. Nobody gets through that. Nobody gets close. But Virginia—Virginia would just waltz through.”

Let’s throw everything up in the air again and see where it lands, okay? Okay!

Austin proclaimed in "Parallax', "Jesus. Women are vicious." We are. And putting aside the offensive, or worse, banal reasons Austin thinks this, Masters of Sex has taken on the dirty job of unfolding the unabridged female psyche for the edification of humanity. Or at least the Showtime viewing public. Libby, Lillian, Virginia, Betty each gets a turn center stage in the episode's effort to shine the light on the essence of feminine conservancy. And even with Libby, who's becoming the mistress of the feint, there is an almost-prismatic view of her state of mind. 'Dirty Jobs' is a little like watching a dainty souvenir fall off a shelf and shatter into too many pieces.

Mrs. Masters, I'll use the shampoo.

The irony of Libby's behavior, at least in part, is that as she humiliates Coral trying to control her (or just anything), she's lost complete control of herself. And somewhere she knows it. Her words and their meaning tumble out of her like scared little kids running down a steep hill without the ability to stop. It's like she's had to create this alternate persona to even act this way. The whole situation is hugely upsetting from every angle. Keke Palmer and Caitlin Fitzgerald are acting the shit out these highly charged scenes, by the way and kudos to the writers for entering into this storyline fearlessly.

I’ve shared nearly everything with you—too much even. It seems only right that you should share with me.

Oh dear, the turn that Lillian and Virginia have taken. When Lillian first finds out that Virginia and Bill are together, she looks as if her heart's been dramatically ransacked. But what happens next is remarkably rich and nuanced. She couldn't care less about the affair or that she was wrong then right then wrong again about Virginia. She knows Virginia is not the woman she described to Austin as first having met. This treason for her is mortifyingly personal and strikingly specific to their relationship. Her easy confession about cheating in college was an act of prayer, secretly begging for Virginia to make okay everything Lillian has exposed, accidentally or on purpose (but mostly accidentally). This friendship of theirs has taken on a corrupt meaning solely because Virginia doesn't trust her enough to tell her what's really going on with Bill. That's some powerful stuff. Lillian's heartbreak is all feeling with a distinct lack of morality or judgment. Incredible given that that would be a much easier reaction.

I never thought you were a good Christian girl. I just thought you were the love of my life.

Of course Gene isn't just a super cool super casual guy who doesn't think twice about donating money to a hospital so Bill can resume his controversial weird sex study again. His investment in this is way more particular. Equally as affecting in 'Dirty Jobs' was Betty and Gene's TV dinner dinner. She didn't even remember him in those same moments he was falling in love with her. I think they're relationship is the brighter side of men and women as partners. Because something that's true of all of the partnerships in this show but most explicit with these two is that the reasons why lie to each other are as endearing as they are silly.

This could be the start of a brand-new you. I know it was for me.

On the heels of finding out that Lillian is giving their study away, Virginia kicks her Calometric sales girl identity in the ass. Her treatment of her neighbor is only slightly less abhorrent than Libby's with Coral. And the same script she has been eschewing (her whole life) becomes her only go-to. Her self-preservation in light of recent rejections. Her lecture to her kids at the end of the episode about not depending on anyone was so realistic. Those declarations moms make to their kids as a means to convince themselves that this is the right course of action. She is free to martyr herself again which only adds to her own chain link fence.

Bits and Pieces

*Oh no. Adieu, Barbara Sanderson. We hardly knew ye.

*I am also going to miss seeing Betty every morning when Bill first arrives at work.

*However, good riddance, Doug Greathouse. (Ah, but Danny Huston played him too well.)

*Virginia is that kind of person who people get some kind of high off of just knowing. And knowing her well? That holds its own cachet. It’s that awesome by proxy principal. The conversation between Austin and Lillian highlighted that in a lovely nuanced way.

*I loved Masters’ attempt to thwart Greathouse with the whole “old men masturbating.” Ditto to the ‘you may have feelings for me after you witness the study in action’ speech. In the end though he didn’t have in his arsenal the laser-like tactic to handle him.

*I hope Lillian wins the Williams prize and it brings her and Virginia back together.

*Amazing that whatever is happening between Bill and Virginia is the most stable thing that exists for either of them at the moment.


Virginia: “You don’t sleep here. Or read. This isn’t vacation.”
Bill: "It’s only 9:15. We still have--"

Libby: “…turns out a new baby is very traumatic for a man, as though his home has been transformed into an oversized playpen. Messy. Noisy. There are smells.”

Virginia: “I don’t want to get good at this. Selling diet pills may be enough for most housewives that walk through your door, but I already have a career.”

Virginia: “So luckily there’s nothing strange about two colleagues having a drink in a hotel lobby.”

William: “Do you time it so we arrive at the exact same moment every morning, or is it just the heavens conspiring against me?”

Doug Greathouse: “I’ll be invisible. Fly on the wall.”

Lillian: “Are you just going to sit there, talking? Because if so, I need a drink.”

Austin: “To Virginia!”
Lillian: “Virginia.”

Austin: “She’s closer to you than—than anyone. So how long have you known?”
Lillian: “So long. Very long.”

Lillian: “I didn’t go into medicine to see my name on a study, Virginia.”

Bill: "The terms of my employment, the terms between you and me are changing now." (Bill has never been much for negotiating.)

Austin (while smoking a cigar): “I’ve always liked the way it looks. Gives me sort of a Hemingway air, I think.” (Lol.)

Austin: “Take it from me—this bachelor life is not all it’s cracked up to be. And don’t get me wrong. There are days when it feels like, literally, I’ve died and gone to heaven literally.”


  1. I know this is a strong word, but when Libby was washing Coral's hair, it felt like a rape to me. The sensation was only heightened by the handing her of money. "Here you are, dear. Go make yourself pretty again." I found the whole scene enormously upsetting.

    I found so much of this episode upsetting. Lillian's heartbreak and Gene's heartbreak. Austin's "advice" to Bill. All the things taken for granted have been shifting. It makes for one hell of a drama!

  2. Chris,
    I know. That shampoo scene was excruciating. And a total violation. Oy.

    I am so proud of the show for doing so well what they set out to do! There's a four and a half minute doc on their writers' room on Showtime.com right now and it's a must if you haven't yet seen it!

  3. Thank you so much for the tip, Heather. That was a fabulous five minutes -- fascinating!

  4. I love (and hate) the scenes between Libby and Coral because they show what real-world racism was and is like. It's not just about blatant discrimination, it's about the small things, about condescending and correcting and making assumptions, about things you can pretend aren't about race at all, and that's what makes them so insidious and hard to fight.

    Many shows use the reasoning that they're "showing the racism in society" as an excuse for not having POCs in the cast. But this show is actually showing racism in society, and it's saying something about it. And I hope that in the coming storyline, the writers will continue to handle issues of race as skillfully as they've handled issues of gender and sexuality.

  5. Miranda:
    I agree. And in my humble opinion, so far so good in this respect.


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