‘Tell Me You Love Me’: Whoa, Dad! TMI!

"Don't worry, we'll cut to the old people having sex shortly."Photo: Courtesy of HBO


With episode six, we've passed the halfway mark (just four more to go!), and each of the couples has hit its nadir. Katie and Dave kick things off with more therapy-session scrapping, as Dave, with typical understatement, describes the state of their sexual skills as “rusty.” Before long, they're taking real swipes with claws bared: When Dave accuses Katie of always looking at him with a “When are we going to have sex?” look, she spits back, “I will never look at you like that again.” Later, as the show takes an uncharacteristic detour from verisimilitude, Dave and Katie have a series of improbable conversations, sotto voce, but well within hearing distance of their kids. “You make me sound like a sex freak,” says Dave, over pizza, while the kids sit nearby watching cartoons. “I was just masturbating.” Whoa, Dad! TMI!

This portends well for the future business of therapist May Foster. Even as Palek and Carolyn are coldly quitting therapy (let's face it: they do everything coldly), Dave and Katie are creating the therapy patients of tomorrow. As for the aforementioned Palek and Carolyn, they seem to have taken up permanent residence at the peak of Mount Chillimanjaro. Note to viewers: If you've been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby for a year, then your husband tells you he doesn't ever want to have kids, then he tells you he wants to sell your house because he “hates it here,” there's a good chance your marriage is in trouble. To top it off, the Evil Sandwich Lady has blabbed all over the law firm that Carolyn's pregnant, which Carolyn chews her out for, forgetting that she's the one who awkwardly blurted it out after greedily ordering two heroes, three hoagies, and a grilled cheese to go.

As for Jamie and Squints the Clown, her flailing search for intimacy (her most cogent, and most frequent, self-analysis is that she's “so fucked-up”) leads her to accompany the Grease Lord to a horrific function featuring a house full of cigarette-smoking, girlfriend-scrutinizing aunts, including Aunt Rose, our new favorite character ever. It also leads to some hot sex — that's right! The hot sex is back! For anyone who felt baited-and-switched by this series — lured in by nubile bodies, then force-fed chilly silences and emotional denial — Jamie and the Duke of Oil delight and amaze as they roll around in a sex scene so expertly simulated that, in some cultures, these two actors would now be legally married.

Also: Elder Sex! We hope you weren't drinking a soda at the moment the camera panned up unexpectedly from some innocent glasses of wine to the sight of May Foster astride her husband like a bronco buster on a mechanical bull. We should say that (a) we applaud the show's brave willingness to show all its characters en flagrante, not just the twentysomethings, and (b) we still think Jane Alexander is the best-looking woman on this show. That said, this bit likely set a new world record for oldest cumulative age of participants in a televised sex scene (and we don't think it was particularly close, unless there was graphic sex on Matlock that we missed). But hey, sex is beautiful, they're beautiful, and we're just glad we'd already finished our Dr. Pepper. —Adam Sternbergh