"Hung," Season 2, Episode 2

Season 2, Episode 2


  • Courtesy of HBO
  • ONE DAY I'LL BUY YOU CONTACTS, MY SON: Charlie Saxton, Thomas Jane and Sianoa Smit-McPhee

I thought a little bit about HBO’s “Hung” while getting caught up on AMC’s “Breaking Bad’s” third season on iTunes this weekend. Both shows depict middle-aged high school teachers raising money with illegal means — prostitution and cooking, meth, respectably — while keeping their extracurriculars secret from their families. Suburban, middle-class crime and transgression may be the big unifying theme of contemporary cable dramas.

A measure of the show’s long-term quality is the strength of the “normal” supporting characters. “Breaking Bad’s” Walter White makes an endlessly fascinating antihero, but the third season finds fresh dimensions in his foils, turning his duped wife Skylar into a vengeful woman scorned, and giving his macho cop brother-in-law Hank an existential crisis. On “Hung,” Tanya’s complex and quirky while Ray’s in an interesting situation (while not being terribly interesting himself). We’re only two episodes into the half-hour dramedy’s second season, but so far, most of the supporting players have one dimension at best.

Perhaps the most intriguing and convincing are Ray and Jessica’s Goth-type teenage twins, Damon (Charlie Saxton) and Darby (Sianoa Smit-McPhee), and a recent piece in The Vulture provides insight into the writing and casting of the roles. (Here’s the link, to spare you the awkwardness of doing a Google search for “Hung teenagers.”) They look nothing like their Mom and Dad, reminiscent of an old joke that in The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman was the Jewish son of two WASP parents. But they’re credible and sympathetic teenagers without being merely nubile vehicles for sarcastic quips. Last season give Damon a wrinkle involving his bi-curiosity (which turned out to be merely an expression of plain old loneliness). This week, Darby flummoxes her thin, perfectionist mother by attending a fat protest, asserting pride in her zaftig proportions in defiance of Jessica’s skin-deep values.

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