Monday, September 10, 2007

Tell Me You Love Me


There is a new must-see show on HBO called TELL ME YOU LOVE ME.

The Cheap Thrills Club, of course, is all of us men who are happy in our relationships yet enjoy the occasional late night cable adult fare and other forms of acceptable behavior like ogling women who wouldn’t go to bed with us even if we were single, younger, and had Steve Jobs’ money. It’s a pathetic club but the newsletters are informative and we give twelve dollar a year to charity.

If you watch REAL SEX on HBO and actually sit through those horrible flabby hippie couples learning intimacy segments or the feature on Tupperware sex toys you are a member of the Cheap Thrills Club. If you signed up for SHOWTIME specifically to get CALIFORNICATION you’re not just in the club, you’re eligible for an intervention.

Club staples are CINEMAX AFTER DARK, that Nevada brothel show on HBO, the SI swimsuit issue, and Soledad O’Brien on CNN.

And now comes TELL ME YOU LOVE YOU. No spoiler alert necessary because (a) nothing happens, and (b) what do you care anyway?

This show is getting big hype and it’s not because audiences are clamoring to see dreary relationships and marriages that are in big trouble. They have that at home. No, folks are tuning in for the sex.

And it was good sex. Not enough of course. There are scenes where people are talking – blah blah they’re not happy – blah blah they have issues. Don’t need ‘em. The way you really learn about people, who they are, and what they believe in is to watch them masturbate. Therapy session scenes are boring and sketchy. We don’t want a character “telling” us her problems, we want to discover them ourselves watching her receive the most realistic simulated sex ever on cable. If we can freeze frame the picture and say, “Doesn’t that look like the space craft and lunar module have actually docked?” then we as an audience can get a deeper understanding into the true nature and uniqueness of her character.

However, there were some things about the show I must say did take me out of the moment. Watching Sonya Walger get laid I kept thinking, “Oh no! That’s Penny from LOST! How could she do that to Desmond?” And, “Who cares if she gets pregnant? Is she behind that new group of invaders to the island?”

Also distracting: Sonya’s gynecologist had an examining room with a view. Seems to me a lot of men in the high rise across the way would be spending a good part of the work day peering through binoculars.

But I’ll be back next week. The Cheap Thrills Club might even hold weekly meetings to coincide with airings. TELL ME YOU LOVE ME has everything its sad membership could want – hot sex, super attractive people unhappy and disillusioned (boo hoo, Calvin Klein models), and decent lighting. Now if they could just get Soledad O’Brien to guest as a former nun who is horny and longing to catch up on all the time she’s missed.

Tomorrow: Our assistant Lana shares her version of working with us.


Rays profile said...

No, not Soledad - Robin Meade of Headline News.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Ken. I tried to watch it, I really did but before the first "interesting" scene I kinda lost interest. It was just boring. That's the best way to describe it and I'm kinda wondering what HBO was thinking when they ordered this crap.

I have to admit that I kinda like Californication. I know it's a guilty pleasure but at least they're trying to come up with something like a story.


Anonymous said...

Ken, if you have HBO On Demand, you can catch the next episode. Not as much naughty content in the second.

Anonymous said...

There was a show a few years ago on Bravo called "Significant Others" about disparate couples going through therapy. It was a comedy (some might have been improv'd, too, but I might be remembering incorrectly). S.O. was high quality tv compared to this trash.

Anonymous said...

On Demand is key. You can 'watch' both shows in fast forward and play it at normal speed for the good parts.

I'm such a pervert. At least that's what my wife keeps telling me.

LouOCNY said...

The 'talky' parts are the things that TiVo, HDD recorders were invented for...

(has an HDD recorder with a DVD burner built in - HEAVEN!)

Anonymous said...

The sex scenes are really boring too. There's nothing worse than "fake porn." The real stuff is so much more satisfying. However Sonya Walger jerking off her husband's fake dick was great comedy. Would loved to have been at the production meeting with the prop guy. "I don't know, the cum still doesn't look right."

Californication is growing on me. They've gotten rid of Duchovny's sanctimonius narration : "I'm in a souless city drowing in a sea of pointless pussy..." and are now venturing into "Sex in the City" territory. It's actually getting funny.

Richard Cooper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Cooper said...

I'm just about to be too poor for cable again. Damned Comcast!

Listen to me kids: Do not major in English! Being a member of the educated poor will not afford you the opportunity to purchase HBO and food simultaneously.

By the way, I have an acquaintance who appeared in Real Sex, a gorgeous gay woman. Listen to me, heterosexual male English majors: do not fall in love with a lesbian! She will only use you to meet your sister and then stop coming over because you're too poor to afford Californication and sushi.

howie said...


"[T]hat Nevada brothel show on HBO" isn't as much for the Cheap Thrills Club" as it is for the "Realist's Club". Members of that club watch shows where they KNOW the women would sleep with them so long as the MasterCard isn't rejected.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and speaking of your favorite actress, Paula Marshall, she was on Californication, butt naked, doing it doggy style with Duchovney. Never thought I'd say this, but she looked hot.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,
To tell the truth, I’d opt for that Lara Logan. And with just the combat boots. But that’s just me.

Actually how about that Lara Logan AND Soledad O’Brien? And I’m a little older, so that Hannah Storm could make it three. Is there anybody else out there who occasionally fantasizes about these hot anchorettes, y’know DOIN’ IT with each other? Or is that pretty much the whole point, Kelly O’Donnell? In darker moments I even be throwin’ in the late Jessica Savitch.

It’s gotten so bad around here, that now, in the middle of everything, I have to close my eyes and pretend that I’M Amanda Peet. Wife just found out I’ve been having an affair with our daughter’s imaginary friend. Good thing we discovered this upcoming anniversary is “counseling.”

I do want to say thanks. I think? When you were down here in Dallas, in response to a question, you advised people frustrated with perishable material and nowhere to go to just put it on a blog, like HuffPost, or to do their own.

Well, Huffington seems to be the blog equivalent of you can’t get a part if you don’t have an agent, and you can’t get an agent if you don’t have the credits. Or at least limits us hoi polloi to a 380 wd. “comment.”

But, yesterday I posted what Daily Kos calls a diary – “Rosh to Judgment: Ben Stein Explains the Bush Rosh Hashanah Faux Pas” (press reports they sent out New Years greetings a week too early). Well, I’ll have to admit the props are nice, and it beats having to schlep this material door to door. But I didn’t realize people emailed you PERSONALLY to put them on your mailing list. Who knew there were liberal Jews?

But WHAT MAILING LIST? I’m barely through the FAQs just figuring out what all the IM shorthand is on THAT site. So now, I gotta start a blog -- which should be challenging. At one point I was the last person in this town still using an IBM Selectric and carbon paper. The rumor went around there was a power surge, and I had lost an entire word.

Hal said...

I guess I missed picking up my mail recently; can you email me my "Cheap Thrills Club" renewal?

I agree that the Bravo version of this was better, but that's like saying that I read the SI swimsuit issue for its analysis of Major League Lacrosse.

Doug Walsh said...

Ha! The best part about business trips is going back to the hotel room at night and hoping Real Sex is playing on HBO. It used to be the on-demand porn, but a co-worker ordered a $50 "72-hour porn extravaganza" and got busted for it. No in-room movies for us anymore. Ha!

Would you believe we pay hundreds a year for the DirecTV Sunday Ticket Superfan package, but refuse to shell out the extra dough for HBO?

Anonymous said...

The only real threshold yet to be crossed in these shows... waking up with morning breath. Apparently (thankfully) that's still too real to portray.

Ben Godber said...

Michael Zand:

Write out 500 times

"It's Sex and the City"

Anonymous said...

Browsing shows to feed the need on basic cable is trickier. Mostly you got your excersize shows, the naked girls gone wild on MTV, Charmed re-runs, cheerleader competitions, the informercial with the chick in the sundress making stuff in a blender, The Girls Next Door and pro-beach volleyball.

Oh..and Walker Texas Ranger, if it is a Nia Peeples episode.

Anonymous said...

You know they've crossed the line when your cable subscription comes with ointment.

Anonymous said...

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe some things are better left to the imagination. I don't want to see real actors (ie not anonymous porn stars) masturbate or have graphic awkward sex on screen, anymore than I want to watch my neighbors doing those things.

I know "Tell Me You Love Me" is trying to show "real sex" and not "Hollywood glamourized sex" but nothing takes me out of show quicker than watching two actors pretend to have graphic sex. Because all I can think is: Hey, this isn't real, right? They are pretending, right? Even if they are grinding against each other naked and basically "doing it" without penetration.

Once I'm having those thoughts about the logistics and realistic fake penis props in such a scene, I'm no longer engaged in the characters or drama. And on that level, the show fails.

But hey, I did tune in to see what all the hubbub was about. And it's not like I looked away. So, I guess it worked on the "shock value" level. And without the sex and nudity the show is really just about three whiny unhappy couples. And who the heck would tune in to watch that?

Anonymous said...

Is it OK if only one of us is pretending? Because, I'm just saying, I have my suspicions.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Paula Marshal appearing on Californication will be the kiss of death for that show. Wasn't there a story out how shows she appeared on (Sportsnight among others) bit the dust a few years ago?

Anonymous said...

I think it wouldn't rub me so much the wrong way (no entendre intended) if it didn't pretend to be more than soft core porn, a la red shoe diaries.

Besides isn't everyone sick of rich yuppies whining about how horrible their lives really are? Moreover porn is porn, porn is good; however I don't really get why it's so revolutionary or noble to turn TV into porn. Anyone else?

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember when Amy Pohler said in response to all the celebrity crotch sightings: "What's next celebrities pooping out of windows"?

Well. . . .