Satisfaction Review: USA Escorts In An Enjoyably Frustrating Quest For Happiness
Sex, love and money. It isnít just a song by Mos Def; itís the trifecta for a supposed happy life. With its newest drama Satisfaction, USA peels the protective layer off of that trio and tries to expose something about humanity that doesnít always get conveyed properly in this modern era of ďME!Ē Happiness doesnít need to be tethered to dollar bills or orgasms, because sometimes all it takes is hot coffee around a clean swimming pool. Sure, it takes money to keep that swimming pool clean, but Satisfaction isnít answering all the questions here.
The Gladesís Matt Passmore stars as Neil Truman, an investment banker whose success has come at the expense of family time and a marriage that, while not mired in arguments, is hanging on by one long thread. His wife Grace (Stephanie Szostak) is dutiful to a point, though she seems to be more inclined to allow Neil to continue in his ceaseless loop without stepping in to say whatís wrong. Their daughter Anika (Michelle DeShon) is the same way, accepting that Neilís job comes first without making a nasty fuss over it. Itís a story weíve seen time and again, though this first episode delightfully sidesteps pointless arguments and allows its adult characters to cure their own inner seething in different ways.
For Grace, itís getting involved with Simon, a male escort played by Switched at Birthís Blair Redford. Itís a quasi-relationship based on attention, which is sometimes more important to people than love. And Neil seems to understand that when he stumbles upon Simon leaving his house at a time when Grace thinks Neil is off on a work trip.
To Neil, this isnít a matter that needs a heavy confrontation; itís one where a better perspective on things is necessary, and finding Simonís phone and contact list is a good place to start. Neil was already on the cusp of having some great personal epiphany anyway, as his behavior at work (and in particular on an airplane with the worst flight attendant in history) is suddenly motivated by inner desires rather than exterior ones. He wants the titular satisfaction, but he doesnít know how to find it if it isnít invested in huge TVs, a nice house and fashionable ties.
I ended up liking Satisfaction a lot more than I thought I would, having been exhausted by USAís endless line of ďbuddyĒ comedies and dramas. The plot is driven forward at a nice contemplative simmer, with enough ďahaĒ moments to keep it from being sluggish. I feel for both Neil and Grace, because theyíre clearly not unhappy with each other and intend to keep their family dynamic strong. But the urge to feel something more will probably never leave them now, which should make for an interesting season of television. Maybe we can leave Neilís pool-cleaning self-psychiatry alone now though, along with the hokey "Look into this flower" philosophy. Neil and I are on the same side with that.
Satisfaction was created by Sean Jablonski, a former executive producer on Suits and Nip/Tuck. No USA series will ever match the tawdriness of the latter, but Satisfaction isnít exactly family-friendly, with a strong focus on sex and atypical emotional responses. (Thereís even an F-bomb in one scene, though itís in the background.) As such, Iím not quite sure what the target audience for this series is, but Iím guessing anyone with a secret cell phone is going to eat it up.
Satisfaction premieres tonight, July 17, and airs on Thursday nights on USA at 10 p.m. ET.
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