Writers: Colette Burnson, Dmitry Lipkin
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Thomas Jane, Jane Adams, Anne Heche
It’s a strange world we live in, where the best TV is no longer on ABC and those other letter networks. Instead, the greatest shows as of late have been appearing on premium networks. Showtime has Dexter and Californication, Starz has Weeds, but HBO has undoubtedly led the pack, with hits like The Sopranos, Deadwood, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Now, there’s one more to add to that pack: Hung.
Hung stars one of our generations most underrated actors, Thomas Jane (The Punisher, The Mist) as Ray Drecker, a former athlete and current high school teacher/gym coach whose wife (Anne Heche, Men In Trees) recently left him for a dermatologist (Eddie Jemison, also of The Punisher). When an accidental fire costs him his house and kids, the financially strapped Drecker decides to make use of the one asset he hast left: his…well, I’m sure you can figure this one out. With a former one-night stand/poet (Jane Adams, Frasier) helping out as his pimp, he bravely steps into what he calls “the oldest known profession”.
Hung really caught me off guard. It could easily be a filthy, sex filled comedy like Californication (A show I absolutely adore), but instead its sexual content is surprisingly understated. His first attempt at being a gigolo actually ends fairly comedically, with Drecker not even getting to see his supposed client, and most of the humor lies not in his escapades, but more his trying to cope with the other aspects of a life that isn’t quite what he’s expected. The writing is sharp and witty, and the situations the characters find themselves in are hilarious and relatable, but what else would you expect from Burnson and Lipkin, the creators of the vastly underrated (and sadly cancelled) series The Riche$. Jane and Adams are also great in their roles, appearing as fun and likeable characters in spite of the subject matter of one helping the other become a sex worker. There’s also fantastic performances from Heche as the somewhat insane ex-wife, but most notable is the actress playing Drecker’s ex-mother-in-law, a hilarious actress whose name I cannot seem to find, that steals the show and makes you hope against all odds that Jane will return in full Punisher regalia to seek revenge against her. There’s also an annoying neighbor and Drecker’s assistant coach played by Gregg Henry, but they don’t factor much into the pilot.
This is a fantastic show that really caught me by surprie, and I would highly recommend checking out, so I’m giving this episode an A. The pilot is 45 minutes long, but the rest of the series is much easier to digest 30 minute chunks. Hung has a 10 episode season order, and airs Sunday nights at 10PM EST on HBO.