On ''Tell Me You Love Me,'' May and her husband star in an eye-opening sex scene; plus, she advises David and Katie to keep abstaining, and Palek and Carolyn end therapy

By Karen Valby
Updated October 15, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Alan Fraser
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”Tell Me You Love Me”: May shows how it’s done

May, oh my, oh my! Whether it made you blush or cringe, whether you were shouting at the screen, ”Yes! Yes!” or ”No! No!” finally there came a sex scene to justify all the hype leading up to Tell Me You Love Me‘s debut. Tonight’s episode, which in every way kicked the series into a whole other exciting gear, featured a very long, very loud love scene between our oldest couple. May caterwauled when she climaxed, then laughed like a very good, purring witch before pouring a glug of merlot down her tiger husband’s throat. Of course we can all act horrified, as if we had stumbled into our parents’ bedroom — that is, if you believe your parents had such healthy, happy sex lives, and I’d like to see a show of hands out there — and caught them straddling each other’s round, puckered bodies. But let’s also admit for just a second that May has got it going on and that we could all take a cue from their abandon.

The only time I found myself really groaning during May’s make-out was when, seconds after she was howling like a monkey, she turned pensive and announced, ”There’s this couple in therapy?” Buzzkill! But off she went, lamenting the fact that these two good, kind people she was treating were keeping each other at such a stiff arm’s length. Earlier in the episode, after listening to Katie and David go at it on the sofa — with poor Katie lying to herself and everyone else by lamely claiming, ”I want sex! I need it! I miss it!” — May cut in and wisely advised the two to take sex off the table. They looked both stunned and relieved and of course couldn’t stop talking about sex for the rest of the episode.

What a relief! All of a sudden, with the pressure of doing it done away with, Katie and David actually discussed the issue they’ve avoided for years. Sex was in the air! Whether they were gnawing away on crusts of pizza, or Katie was peeping onto porn sites with the smirking embarrassment of a junior high schooler at her first sex-ed lecture, or David was teasingly bringing up the possibility of nookie at the end of a long night, these two were circling each other in an entirely new way. Katie’s frigidity seems to be on a slow thaw, David’s sting of rejection is starting to scab up, and long-dormant hormones are starting to swirl around their nightly ablutions. May, white-haired master of bed dread, you are a miracle worker.

Too bad then that Carolyn and Palek, with their baby-making days behind them, bid her an embarrassingly cold adieu. (I’m increasingly unable to picture this strange, hard couple ever looking at each other in the first place and deciding yes, for the sake of our love, let’s get help during this difficult time. Can you all buy these two as the therapy-seeking kind?) Palek, breathing a raggedy sigh of relief that he won’t ever have to fail as a father the way his did, seemed buoyed for a bit, even going so far as to invite his wife out for a hooky afternoon of ice cream. But his exhalations seemed to land him in a pit of cold ennui. Suddenly he was announcing to a stunned Carolyn that he never wants, or wanted, to have children. He hates it in their sterile house and wants out. What else does this unhappy man want out of?

Carolyn is without a doubt the scariest son of a bitch on TV today. And for evidence, look no further than her withering takedown of the loose-lipped sandwich lady at her law firm. But she looked simultaneously furious and desperately freaked by Palek’s about-face. So what else to do in such situations than get fuzzy on good ganja? In the first scene showing this couple ever having fun — and I purposely don’t count their loaded lovemaking with Palek’s freaky mom holding court in the next room — the two smoked a joint and had a couple laughs and a proper, spontaneous roll in the hay. And the whole thing was prompted by one of the best lines yet from this show. When Palek asked Carolyn why she was packing pot, she responded that it was from fair Mason: ”She always gives me these little gifts just to remind me that I love her.” These curdled sisters — heaven help the men who stray into their lives.

NEXT: Carolyn meets Jamie

Good luck as well to the fellas who meet up with Jamie, whose best qualities so far seem to be her blithe intention to be a good, healthy person and those magnificently crafted eyebrows. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been too rough on the character. Such a Kleenex of a thing, always constructing simple fantasies about the lives of others, doesn’t merit such lip-curled scrutiny. She’s young, she’s lost, she means well. She’s a dope, in other words. She had a by-the-numbers make-out with Nick tonight. She was accosted by his aunt Rose, the lost Golden Girl, at a family gathering. She hid in a bathroom — not cool, girlfriend! Is Aunt Rose supposed to use the backyard? — and dithered on about her place in the world.

She later got dragged to Carolyn’s open house by Mason, who confessed to a creepy secret attraction to Palek. Jamie padded around the house, looking for a window onto happily ever after. When Carolyn found Jamie lurking in their bedroom, she looked for a second like she might eat her. (Yes! Yes!) But Jamie reminded her of their connection, Carolyn snapped to and said right, right, and you were engaged to some dude who shares a name with my favorite author. Jamie, swirly eyed and empty headed, drew a blank. Carolyn, her brain on Victor Hugo, her eyes narrowing with derision, looked like a senior sorority sister stuck in the corner with a dud rushee. When she half-heartedly asked her sister’s little friend what her wrist tattoo meant, Jamie announced her intention to ”heal.” Carolyn seemed both touched and tickled that this young girl in her bedroom believed that she’d already suffered from any real wounds.

Maybe it was the show’s tacit acknowledgment that Jamie is a young, well-meaning ding-dong that made my heart swell tonight. Maybe it was the killer Killers song ”My List,” which ended this fully alive episode. Or maybe, most likely, it was the sublime line May said to her old flame over lunch. He was nosing around, looking for an alley back into her life. ”I had a marriage, too,” he told her. ”A good one. But it wasn’t a love affair.” May, with her inimitably cool gaze, responded, ”Most marriages aren’t. They’re much more than that.” Honey, put that sad, true, truly romantic snatch of dialogue on wedding invitations, and maybe then the divorce rate will finally drop.

But what about you, faithful viewers? What was your response to the Sex Scene of the Season? What do you think was the mysterious unuttered advice that was given to May and her husband all those hard years ago? Does your hope for Katie and David grow with every episode? I want to scream when I see Jamie with her feet on May’s sofa. What or who on this show drives you bananas?

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Tell Me You Love Me

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