When Hung first premiered, I saw it as a show which was taking on the same general concept being explored by Breaking Bad: a devoted father is put in a position where he can no longer provide sufficient financial support for his family and decides to use his God-given talents to skirt the law and make the necessary funds. Sure, one guy’s got a gift for chemistry and the other’s got a gift below the belt, but surely you take my point.
Besides, it’s not like I’m pulling this completely out of thin air. I pitched my theory to Hung co-creator Dmitry Lipkin via email as the series was entering its second season, and not only did he confirm his love of Breaking Bad and the inherent similarities between Walter White and Ray Drecker, but he added, “I like to think that, like Breaking Bad, we're breaking ground in terms of tone, because of the humor and absurdity involved in both shows.”
As Hung opens its third season, Ray’s speech about making lemons out of lemonade underlines that economic necessity is still the major reason why he continues to, uh, make women well, and based on the sounds emanating from Happiness Consultants as the camera comes in for a landing at their front door, one would be led to presume that he’s still very good at what he does. What we’re hearing, though, is actually a recording of Tanya… or so she claims, anyway, as she gives a lecture to a room full of prospective clients. The first thing we notice is that she seems far more confident than she did the last time we saw her. And, say, what’s all this about “Orgasmic Living”?
Time for a flashback, where we see exactly how far Tanya had fallen as of the last time we saw her. Working behind the counter at a coffee shop? Yikes. Out of ideas and desperate for a reliable health plan, she’d rather mangle customers’ names than risk playing in the same league as Lenore any longer, but in the process of likening the sex trade to Starbucks, she has a sudden epiphany and, within moments, has whipped off her apron and submitted her resignation. The next thing you know, she and Ray are trying to get a loan to get their very own “wellness center” off the ground. Ah, but what’s their product? “Organic hand creams,” you say? Riiiiiiight.
It’s certainly no surprise that Ray and Tanya get turned down (“You know, I probably should’ve mentioned the ‘Orgasmic Living’ part”), but it is a little surprising when their subsequent conversation turns so overtly political, with Tanya actually daring to utter the words “small business Obama grants.” Not that Ray lets her go anywhere with her premise, shutting her down almost immediately by reminding her, “The whole country’s fucked up right now,” but his words cause something in her to snap, sending her back inside to trip her way across the bank in a desperate attempt to be honest and forthright with Judy the Loan Officer about the real reason behind her desire to start this wellness center… or as real as she’s willing to get in the middle of a bank, anyway.
Damned if it doesn’t work, though: Judy the Loan Officer and her friend Joanie the Bank Teller agree to sit still for Tanya’s painfully awkward first attempt at an “Orgasmic Living” class. The idea that Judy and Joanie would’ve followed these two people they’ve never met before back to their home is pretty ridiculous in and of itself, but by the time Tanya started playing the tape of her orgasm, if I were Judy or Joanie, I’d be figuring about 80-20 odds that the wine I’d just been given by the visibly-nervous Ray had been good and roofied, and the horrified look on Judy’s face reveals that she’s thinking something along those very lines. Joanie, however, is clearly a bit titillated, and she quickly puts on the peer pressure, convincing Judy to see just what one of Ray’s “private consulations” is all about.
After several drinks, it’s starting to look as though Judy’s finally starting to loosen up a bit, but when Joanie lunges for Ray’s lips, any alcohol-fueled confidence that she’d built up quickly dissipates. Unfortunately, Judy’s decision to dash causes friction between the women, leading Joanie to–let’s face it–very accurately assess Judy as being repressed. Judy denies this, of course, and attempts to storm out, but Ray not only talks her down but, indeed, manages to instigate a sexual event which comes tantalizingly close to a threesome. Cue the Lemonheads’ “It’s a Shame About Ray,” however, because he quickly becomes a third wheel. But, hey, at least he got the loan, right?
And so Tanya becomes an instructor of “Orgasmic Living,” Ray gets himself a brand new client list, and everything’s looking hunky-dory around Casa de Drecker. Clearly, Ray doesn’t have a Skyler to his Walt, because if he did, he’d know better than to try and pretend that he’s living this high on the hog as a result of substitute teaching. Jess certainly isn’t buying it. Even his claim that he’s doing a bit of “personal training” on the side to supplement his income earns him a roll of her eyes. And that new car…? Does anyone doubt that a visit from the tax man is in the cards for the near future?
Lenore is appropriate snarly when she sees the ad for Happiness Consultants. It was always inevitable that she’d be butting heads with Tanya sooner than later, but let’s not pretend that it wasn’t convenient to the nth degree that, mere moments after seeing said ad, she was brought coffee by a waiter whose manhood rivaled that of her former man-whore. With that said, however, it should still be fun to watch the resulting cat fight and…sword fight? Sure, let’s go with that.
Random quotes and observations:
- You either had to have a keen eye or, like myself, a finger on the “pause” button at all times, but here’s hoping at least a few people spotted the visual shout-out to the B. Nektar Meadery. Go on, you know you’re hankering for a bottle of Imperial Funky Monkey…
- Leave it to Hung to take a shot of Tanya making a latte and make it seem sexual.
- “We’ve got an excellent product.”
- “It’s not all about your dick, Ray.”
- I’m sorry, she just say, “Good boy”? Woof.
- As it always has been and ever shall be, simply saying the word “vulva” proved to be a comedy goldmine. “Have you considered your vulva?” “Do not stigmatize the vulva, Ray.” And so forth. I’m not ashamed to say that I laughed at every one.
- “Oh, yeah, the Bush years were the boom years…”
- “We’re good.”
- After waiting around since 1997 for Arden Myrin, who plays Joanie in tonight’s episode (and who first came on my radar in the ensemble of Fred Savage’s first post-Wonder Years sitcom, Working), to score massive mainstream success, I’m growing increasingly resigned to only seeing her in quirky roles like this one. But I still think she’s cute as the dickens, so her couch-grappling with Michaela Watkins…? No complaints here, my friend.
- “Richard, could you bring in the Sampson file, please?”
- “So thanks to a lot of fucking, I could finally fix up my house.” Remember, kids, there is no false advertising when it comes to Hung: even when it’s about the economy, it’s still about fucking.
- “You only have to kill one person to be a killer, baby…”
- That poor pug…