TV Review: Tell Me You Love Me (HBO)
Created By: Cynthia Mort
Starring: Jane Alexander, Tim DeKay, Luke Kirby, Adam Scott, David Selby, Ian Somerhalder, Sherry Stringfield, Sonya Walger and Ally Walker
Premieres: Sunday, September 9, 2007 on HBO
From The Sopranos to Six Feet Under to Deadwood and Sex and the City, HBO is known for delivering fantastic original series. So will Tell Me You Love Me measure up to HBO’s high standards? If you ask me, to be entirely honest, the jury’s still out. Based on the pilot episode, which doesn’t premiere until September 9th but is available for HBO On Demand subscribers, this series will definitely give people something to talk about.
Tell Me You Love Me focuses on three couples, that are attending therapy sessions with Dr. May Foster to deal with their relationship issues. Dave and Katie are in their 40’s and while they appear to have it all (good jobs, great kids, etc), they’ve stopped having sex. Carolyn and Palek are in their 30’s and ready to have a baby. Unfortunately, they’ve been trying to get pregnant for over a year and so far, it hasn’t happened. The pressure to conceive has definitely taken its toll on this couple. And finally, there’s the 20-something couple, Jamie and Hugo, who are engaged but having problems due to Jamie’s insecurities over Hugo’s commitment to her.
Here’s what the series creator, Cynthia Mort got right with the series. It feels very real. And this is not just because of the way it’s filmed. The characters, the dialogue and the sex (which we’ll get to in a minute) all have a very realistic style to them. It is for this reason that people will either love Tell Me You Love Me or become completely bored by it.
The sex in the series is what everyone’s been talking about. There are some very graphic sex scenes throughout the first episode. From the oral or hand variety to self-gratification and full on intercourse, if you’re looking for a show with lots of sex and nudity in it, this one’s for you. But unlike other R-rated TV series, the sex is filmed like every other aspect of the show. Rather than the usual pornish sex scenes, there’s a level of intimacy present when the characters are getting it on with each other (or in one case, with himself). Watching these scenes, I almost felt as though I was hiding in the closet spying on the couples’ as they got it on. As a fairly modest person, I will admit that this made me somewhat uncomfortable but I understood why it was filmed this way.
The sex is almost like a separate character in the series. In a weird way, it sort of links these couples together. Whether they’re having sex to get pregnant, to avoid fighting or talking out their problems, or just because they love each other, the sex plays a key role in the story. The problem is that some people might find it hard to get past the graphic nature of these scenes in order to see the point of them as they relate to what each couple is going through.
As I mentioned earlier, I think people will either really appreciate the realistic way that Tell Me You Love Me portrays typical American couples or they’ll become completely bored by it. The third possibility is that viewers will feel such a connection with one or more of these characters/couples that they’ll either fall totally in love with the series or be completely put off by it. I suppose that would all depend on which side of the story they relate to the most.
In terms of how I’d rate the show, I’m torn. On one hand, if it was Mort’s intention to create a series that portrayed realistic couples with realistic relationship issues, she’s succeeded admirably. The writing, directing and acting are all fantastic. On the other hand, I’m not sure the TV watching public, myself included, is ready for a series like this.
We’re used to drama series like Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy, where the characters’ love lives are all twisted up due to a mixture of dramatic circumstances and self-inflicted problems. Tell Me You Love Me me seems to do the opposite of that. The sense of realness in this series could make it difficult for people to watch, especially if they’re the type of viewer who looks to TV as a way to escape their problems, fears and insecurities - not to be reminded of them.
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