“Hung” is a new TV series from HBO starring Thomas Jane and Jane Adams. Thomas Jane stars as Ray Drecker, a down-on-his-luck, divorced Phys Ed teacher. As his ex-wife (played capably by Anne Heche) points out in a flashback scene, his one admirable attribute is that he’s well-endowed.
In an attempt to raise some money (to fix his house, to reclaim his children from his ex), he becomes a gigolo. Jane Adams plays Tanya, a sweaty, poor poet who becomes his pimp.
Fans of “Weeds” will recognize this premise: “Single parent in dire financial straits turns to socially unacceptable work and hilarity ensues”. Except that, in the case of “Hung”, hilarity definitely does not ensue. Its fatal flaw is that it’s simply not very funny. I watched the first episode of the newest season of “Weeds” last night, and there were more laughs in that show than four episodes of “Hung”. The writing isn’t particularly witty, and Thomas Jane doesn’t seem to be much of a comic actor.
The writing, I think, is at the core of the show’s problems. The characters are all caricatures: Jane plays a buffoon, Adams plays a hippy artist, Heche is the neurotic soccer man. “Weeds”, on the other hand, is populated with these nuanced, complex characters, and that’s often where the comedy stems from.
The writers also ask us to sympathize with Drecker, Jane’s character. This is tricky, because the protagonist is a jerk. Also, on a minor technical note, he’s depicted as pretty dimwitted. Yet in the second episode he uses the term ’emasculated’ without missing a beat. This rang false to me.
There seems to be a fundamental law of television, that 80% of all potential greatness is locked inside 20% of the shows. That makes choosing what to watch easier, I suppose.
Have you watched “Hung”? Did you like it?