Everyone seems to be looking for some form of acceptance in Masters of Sex episode 10, “Below the Belt.”
Take Libby, for instance. She’s found a cause in CORE, but CORE—or at least Robert—isn’t interested in her help, beyond sending her on lunch runs. “You’ll just be one more white person showing up and trying to tell them how to live their lives,” Robert tells Libby, when she asks why he won’t allow her to come canvassing for a rent strike. But undeterred, she continues to run the activists’ small errands. This is starting to piss off Bill, who doesn’t like his own dinner interfered with and snarkily says, “My wife, back from work,” when she pulls up to the house late from her volunteer efforts one night.
But Libby is so determined to be taken seriously, she decides to show up to the group’s rent strike canvassing efforts uninvited, and even asks Virginia to provide an alibi for her so she doesn’t have to bother with Bill criticizing her decision. (That, of course, leads to an awkward exchange, with Libby telling Virginia they’ll keep the lie “between us”—unless the idea of lying to Bill is too uncomfortable. And so the woman who is having an affair with Libby’s husband is now being asked by Libby to keep secrets from said husband.) Turns out Libby is a pretty good saleswoman (which we’ve seen before) and helps CORE get signatures from 30 percent of the residents in the projects they visited. Unprompted, Robert invites her to the next canvassing effort.
Barbara and Lester may be on a similar path to acceptance. Though they got off on the wrong foot when they first met—Lester unintentionally insulted Barb for her belief in God—Lester later apologizes. At the diner, they bond over their sexual dysfunction and how it has led them both to a place of despair. Lester says he kind of wishes he could adopt a belief system that would allow him to absolve his sins; Barb says it’s not quite that easy and admits that she, too, had given up on herself. Now that they’ve found kindred broken spirits, maybe Barb can be the woman Lester is looking for to start a relationship with and (eventually) work through his/their mutual problems.
Flo, that fierce Cal-O-Metric lady, is also looking for a little love… in the form of her hot spokesman, Dr. Langham. She commands him to meet at her apartment—”Do not be late or you will be fired”—but when he arrives, he protests as much as possible (in as many words as possible) that he’s just not going to be able to have sex with her because she’s not his type. But Flo is a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it, and in no time proves to Langham that his “equipment” is going to work just fine for the task at hand. In fact, it’s up for the job at least two times that evening.
When getting ready to leave, Langham seems relieved that they’ve gotten that business “out of the way” so they can go back to their professional relationship. Turns out Langham really likes his Cal-O-Metric job, and he’s really good at it—making the ladies feel good about themselves and all. But Flo makes her intentions clear—no, this was not a one-time thing. She has an uncanny ability to bare her soul while making sure Langham knows she’s serious: Like their clients, she also wants to recapture that feeling of being young and pretty, and Langham is going to do that for her.
Sex as a means for feeling fulfilled also resonates with Bill and Virginia. First, on a professional level, they discover a Dr. Joseph Kaufman is trying to infringe on their turf by publishing a rival study on the human response to sex. This sets off Bill, who is determined to be first to deliver the groundbreaking research on human sexuality to the world, and not become some scientific footnote in someone else’s paper. He wants a Nobel Prize, dammit!
And so, despite the office’s inability to pay their electric bill on time, Bill hires a public relations specialist to ensure he and Virginia will be the researchers receiving all the credit for this work. (It’s the same guy who helped one of Bill’s colleagues get the credit for developing the birth control pill.) The PR guy’s pitch: Put Bill and Virginia on TV as a human interest story plumbing “the mysteries of desire.” They’d be great! They’re just like every married couple in America, the way they argue!
Virginia sees the value in taking their study to the masses. Bill thinks the idea is absurd—this is a serious medical study that should be published in the American Journal of Medicine, not preceding Mr. Magoo. Virginia asks him the most important question: Would you be able to forgive yourself if you did nothing and Kaufman walked away with the Nobel Prize?
NEXT: Bill and Virginia get back to “work”