Friday, November 23, 2007

Tell Me You Love Me

Hang on, let me wipe away the tears of joy, elation, tension release, and sheer awe.

Ok, we're cool.

I just finished watching the first season of HBO's new series, "Tell Me You Love Me." What started as nothing but curiosity about a show that was being talked about heavily due to its virtually pornographic nature snowballed and evolved into a passion for what might just be my new favorite show (once again on HBO... although Twin Peaks wasn't on HBO, but then again I started watching it long after it was on the air...).

Tell Me You Love Me tracks the lives of four different couples that are subtly interwoven by random connections and do little more than breeze past each other (excepting one very angry exchange of words between two of the male protagonists), as they try to figure out who they are, and what their relationships are all about.

What struck me about the show was it's frank portrayal of relationships. Many movies and television shows that portray relationships seem to do so in a somewhat contrived manner. Movies do it because they only get a 72 or so minute block to cover the peaks and valleys and they need ticket sales. Television doesn't do it because there are boundaries that censors don't let them cross, or because they're much more concerned with the "drama" to get viewers.

This show is unique and stellar. Yes, the sexuality in the show is very up-front, but it is often so in a very unself-conscious way. For instance, while the stars are certainly fairly attractive, they are not so in the traditional way in some cases. One scene of note that had me grinning ear to ear was a very honest sex scene between the silver-haired therapist/counselor and her equally-aged husband. It wasn't the fact that I was calling it "old-people sex" in my head that made me grin like an idiot, though. It was the fact that someone had decided (and someone else had agreed) that this was good, nay, important to show.

Sex is a tough thing in real life, and it's equally tough when you have to show it to someone else. Porn has spent years carving niche after niche to cater to people's pure sexual id, and it does a good job of showing people something that gets them off. Movies do so more tastefully and, dare I say, artfully. Or at least theatrically. But this show has taken sex and, instead of shooting it on crappy video, or dolling it up in make-up and lighting it for a few grand, finds the in-between. It shoots it beautifully, but doesn't doll it up in more than a single bright bulb. For that, it deserves accolade.

I'm speaking in metaphor, of course, because this show's production values are at HBO's standards and no less.

What I want to say in summation is this: Tell Me You Love Me does a painfully good job of showing what sex does in a relationship - the good things and the bad things. The performances are almost always astoundingly believable, the pain and faces seem utterly recognizable from one's own real life, and the show is, basically, brilliant. It is bold, smart, and beautiful. And for that it has my undivided attention.

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