Hung

My guilty pleasure. No, now get your mind out of the gutter. Ok, well, not completely.

HBO has stolen my heart again – and my Thursday nights.

Hung is a riveting series on HBO that centers on a father of two teenagers who goes through a messy divorce, deals with a custody battle, and on top of it all, his house burns down. As he is a high school basketball coach and detention supervisor, his finances are slim. And, of course, he never filed for homeowners insurance. He is left trying to rebuild his house and his family, alone.

The kids

The kids

After a one-night-stand with a homely yet interesting woman, he comes across an even more interesting opportunity – the chance to be a male gigolo. Yes, you heard right. He has the opportunity to GET PAID TO HAVE SEX. So, the show takes off switching between his life as a father and teacher and his life as a male prostitute. And, let me tell you, his sexcapades are anything but boring. Draws you in, right?

No, this isn’t a plug for Hung or for HBO, but, as a true writer, this show made me think.

How far would you go to get your family back? How far would you go to restore your home? Your life? Would you have sex for money if it was enough to rebuild your burned down house? To get your kids back?

The whole idea of prostitution strikes me.

Word association, “PROSTITUTE.”

  • Tramp
  • Colfax
  • Red light district
  • Fishnets
  • Mini-skirts
  • Drugs
  • No self-esteem
  • Dirty
  • STDs
  • Illegal
  • Sex. With. Strangers.

But, this guy is normal! This guy is a SCHOOLTEACHER. What would you do if you found out your professor was a

PROSTITUTE?

The gigolo

The gigolo

I’d freak.

Of course, those words are generalizations and stereotypes that suburban kids are taught to associate with prostitution from the day they see broad daylight. And those kind of stereotypical prostitutes exist. I’ve seem ‘em.

But this guy, this guy, is just plain intriguing. I know, I know, it’s just a TV show. But I am a firm believer that TV shows can, and often do, stem from real life experiences. It makes me wonder if there is someone, or many someones, that partake in this yet are still able to lead normal lives. They become “creatures of the night.” And it must be exhausting leading this double life.

Back to the show.

The one-night-stander becomes his “pimp.” First of all, she’s female.

Word association: “PIMP.”

  • Male
  • Asshole
  • Heartless
  • Greedy
  • Disrespectful (I wish there was a stronger word)
  • Dirty
  • 50 cent (had to throw that one in there)
tanya-on-phone-252x190

The pimpess

Even Wikipedia is gender specific when it comes to defining a pimp, “A pimp (also called fleshmonger or Pander) finds and manages women (often young girls) who are vulnerable and susceptible, for what ever reason, to extreme manipulation and engages them in prostitution (in brothels and on the streets) in order to profit from their earnings.”

So, whoa. This show is redefining stereotypes all over the place.

Anyway, the pimpess calls their “business” Happiness Consultants. Wait. Hold up. Is this suggesting that meaningless sex with strangers will make you happy? Yes. Absolutely. And that’s how she pitches her business plan to potential clients. She convinces women that if they are lonely, unhappily married or seriously mentally disturbed (you should’ve seen that episode, holy crap) that the solution is to hire the Happiness Consultants and this strapping, “well hung” man will come to your house, have sex with you for a significant amount of money and *POOF* you will be happy.

Hmmm.

This seems problematic to me on so many levels. First, happiness doesn’t stem from meaningless sex. At least for me. When it comes to sex (mom, dad, grandparents, I’m sorry if you’re reading this), true happiness comes from having sex with someone you love. It’s an entirely different feeling than when you have sex with someone you don’t. When you sleep with someone you don’t love, or at least considerably care for, more times than not, it leaves you UNhappy. Wanting more. Wanting that emotional connection with that someone that you just can’t get when it’s just about the sex. Or the money (I’d imagine).

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had sex with people I haven’t significantly cared for (mom, dad, grandparents, I’m sorry again). But, as predicted, it didn’t leave me feeling any better about myself. It didn’t make me happy. It turned into an “oh, what did I do that for” moment.

And I could never, ever, ever, ever receive PAYMENT for having sex with someone. That’s when the childhood implanted stereotypes enter.

I can see the appeal, however. No attachments or strings attached. And that can definitely be exciting. But I guess I feel that is more about the immediate satisfaction. Not long term happiness.

Back to the question, though. How far would you go for your family? If you were dirt poor and needed to provide something, anything. What would you do? If the opportunity arose, would you have sex to make ends meet?

Think about it. Afterall, we are in a recession.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike September 5, 2009 at 11:48 am

Very intriguing premise. I might have to check this out when I’m caught up with Lost.

One thing I’d like to point out though. That while I have not seen the show (And therefore might not have a frame of reference), I doubt the makers are attempting to tell viewers that meaningless sex will make them happy. This pimp character seems to sell the position in a manner that is authentic to real life prostitution. Considering that prostitution has to do with controlling a human being, pimps giving a it a sense of glamour is the only way to trap someone in it. So long story short, I think the agency title pokes fun at this illusion and it’s a careful wink to the audience.

I absolutely agree with your stance on sex though, and I think the producers agree with you too.

Reply

MrMadman September 8, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Heh-heh-heh. You said “Would you have sex to make ends meat.” Heh.

Reply

MrMadman September 8, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I told a friend about this great show called Hung that’s full of wit and heart and, despite the title, not salacious. She said, “Well, one can always hope.”

The show makes it clear that paying for sex with a stranger as a reliable route to happiness is just a false marketing premise. Notice all of the marketing jargon repeatedly spouted by the “pimp?” It’s as much about marketing as “Mad Men” is.

Also notice that the satisfied (not happy) customers are all at least somewhat unbalanced: the narcissistic personal shopper, for instance. The episode with the lady who wanted to replay her scenarios, this time getting them right, culminating in breaking a heart for no reason at all, was brilliant, poignant, chilling. (And way too close to home for your humble correspondent.)

There’s a large gray area between prostitute and not-prostitute if one thinks of the women who marry rich guys for other reasons than pure romantic love, “kept women,” et alia. Yes, many prostitutes have day jobs of all sorts. I had a teacher who was (by some strict definitions anyway) a prostitute; he was great.

Finally, “Hung” airs first on Sunday, right after True Blood, so if you yield to the inevitable and surrender Sunday evenings to HBO, you get Thursdays back.

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