A freelance sex trade satire that turns the mating menu on its head from a mercilessly feminist point of view, Hung is nothing less than a combo of weird and wild. A tastefully lascivious descent into male organ endowment for purchase and concurrent vociferous when not voracious female desires, Hung is further evidence of the small screen venturing into more daring and wider territory than its big screen cousin, guilty as charged pun intended wherever sighted in this review.
Thomas Jane aka The Punisher, perfects his performance skills and diversifies his acting portfolio in Hung as Ray Drecker, a suburban Detroit guy on the edge, and about to hit rock bottom. A star teen athlete whose promising career with the Atlanta Braves was destroyed by a ligament injury, Drecker now in midlife crisis mode and downward spiral as a glum high school coach, is dealing with a shrewish ex-wife (Anne Heche), an uninsured house destroyed in a fire, and a son who wears lipstick.
So when he meets and briefly mates with sexually demanding, likewise underachiever temp and moonlighting nonconformist poet Tanya Skagle (Jane Adams), and she disses him as an insensitive lover who has nothing going for him except his ample endowment, Ray instantaneously converts insult into opportunity. That is, strapped for cash and confronting an exceedingly disappointing world unlike that of his parents, where life has now become ‘something that you buy’ Ray decides to go with the flow, self-commodify and get into creative marketing of the only tool he’s got, so to speak. And with Skagle eagerly stepping up to the plate as the poet pimp of this jock turned stud with a price on his head, there’s seemingly no turning back. Not to mention a whole lot this ‘happiness consultant’ in no way bargained for.
Written in part and produced by Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election, The Assassination Of Richard Nixon), Hung is a delightfully brash, expectation defying, gender role reversal spoof, with lots of ego-shriveling sober insight into the ways in which women have been devalued all these many centuries. While among the many unpleasant rude awakenings for this eager beaver, not necessarily truth in advertising manly sex toy, are male sexual expectations of entitlement and exemptions not routinely extended to female hookers; forced tolerance for far less than hottie demanding customers; a variety of on-the-job sexual humiliations; female screamers; and aggressive horny women who ‘give orders like four star generals.’
And Hung admirably, isn’t reticent about connecting the political and emotional in a big way, as when Ray gripes about his less than satisfying new career choice and concurrent lapsed libido linked to possible psychological fallout from a bad economy, layoffs and those dubious adjustable rate mortgages. Though the ensuing episodes do increasingly lose some of that lust-at-first-sight initial vigor.
And no less than SATC 2 and the surrounding critic backlash, Hung gets equally down and dirty when it comes to the conventionally untouchable, provocative terrain of explicit female-centric outspoken desires, especially the sexual recognition and empowerment of older women. Which gives an unusual new meaning to the concept of HBO On Demand.
HBO Home Entertainment
DVD Features: Audio Commentaries with series ceators and executive producers Colette Burson, Dimitry Lipkin and writer Brett C. Leonard; About Hung: Behind The Scenes; The Making Of Hung Interviews with cast and crew; Featurettes: The Women Of Hung; Ray and Tanya’s Personal Ads.