The Showtime series Masters of Sex has been picked up for a third season, a surprise to no one given the heaps of critical acclaim that have been piled onto the period drama about the true story of Dr. William Masters and his research assistant Virginia Johnson, who performed groundbreaking research into human sexuality during the 1950s.
The show is based on the book about Masters and Johnson, Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love by Thomas Maier. Masters is played by Martin Sheen and Johnson is played by Lizzy Caplan, a formerly under-the-radar actress for whom the part has served as a breakout role.
Showtime made the predictable announcement that the show will get a third season just a few days before the Primetime Emmys, where Caplan is nominated for outstanding lead actress in a drama. Caplan is seen as a bit of an underdog, and is facing competition from five other talented actresses on acclaimed drama series, but she has been praised for inhabiting the period role in a way that’s both authentic and fresh.
“Virginia and I share quite a few similarities,” Caplan said in a recent interview with Los Angeles Confidential. “My approach to sex and relationships at certain times in my life fell completely in line with how she viewed those topics in certain points in her life. There were eerie things that we had in common that I don’t really tell anybody, very specific details. It started to feel like she and I shared this cosmic connection.”
Masters of Sex has already picked up an Emmy this year at the Creative Arts Emmys held last weekend, where guest star Allison Janney won for her appearance as the unfulfilled wife Margaret Scully. “I felt that Margaret Scully challenged me in ways that I’ve never been challenged before as an actress on so many levels — on an emotional level, on a physical level — and having to do sex scenes was extraordinarily nerve-wracking and stressful for me and something that I didn’t think I’d have to do at this age, frankly,” Scully told The Hollywood Reporter backstage after winning.
The second season of Masters of Sex has gotten even stronger reviews than the first, with an 89 metascore on Metacritic indicating nearly universal acclaim. Part of the show’s success has been due to its predominantly female writing staff and female showrunner Michelle Ashford, which critics have cited as a reason the show so successfully tackles issues regarding women’s sexuality.
Showtime also renewed Ray Donovan for a third season, with both series set to return for 12 episodes each in 2015. “Both Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex are quintessentially Showtime: bold, provocative, premium television with production values at the top of the food chain,” said Showtime Networks president David Nevins, per The Hollywood Reporter. “These acclaimed shows are filled with complex and interesting characters and settings that will no doubt give audiences compelling television to invest in for seasons to come.”
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