Masters of Sex premiered Sunday on Showtime bringing together sexually repressed Dr. William Masters and his sexually free secretary Virginia Johnson.

Based on a biography of Dr. Masters and Ms. Johnson (who were married from 1971 to 1992), Masters of Sex explores the beginning of Masters and Jonson’s professional and personal relationship. The pilot begins in 1956: Masters (Michael Sheen) is working at Washington University’s hospital as an OB/GYN, but what he really wants to do is study sex and human sexuality.

In his down time time, Masters escapes to brothels and watches Betty (Annaleigh Ashford), a prostitute, do her job through a peep hole. He later interviews her about her work. When she mentions the practice of faking orgasms, Masters is shocked. In fact, Masters displays very little knowledge of sex in general.

His sexual ineptitude is confirmed when he returns home to his wife, Libby (Caitlin FitzGerald), who is desperately trying to get pregnant, and the two have sex. Libby fears she is barren, but in fact, Masters is the one who is unable to have children, but he refuses to tell her.

Meanwhile, Ginny Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), is a former nightclub singer without a degree who embraces her sexuality and status as a single woman. She is currently fooling around with Ethan Haas (Nicholas D’Agosto), Master’s employee. Johnson uses him and then kicks him out the door, and while, at first, this suits Haas just fine, when he finds out she just wanted casual sex, he gets angry and calls her a whore.

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Masters hires Ginny as his secretary, appreciating her frankness in all things sex, and, with the blessing of the University provost, Barton Scully (Beau Bridges), the two embark on the academic study of sex.

Using the network of secretaries to recruit possible subjects Ginny brings Masters his first coupling: Jane Martin (Heléne Yorke) and Dr. Austin Langham (Teddy Sears). After observing the couple masturbating and having sex, Masters propositions Ginny. He pretends that they should have sex to ensure that they don’t transfer any feeling of sexual intimacy onto the subjects of their study – for the sake of science. Ginny is hesitant, and she takes the weekend to think about it.

Masters of Sex airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime. And, if you missed the series premiere, you can watch the entire episode courtesy of Showtime here.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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