The most interesting program on Channel Sevens schedule in 2010 makes its first appearance tonight. What makes it such a stand-out on the Channel Seven schedule is its strong examination of the construct of masculinity when the good majority of Sevens marquee programs are unashamedly female-orientated relationship dramas.
At its core, Hung is about the changing role of manhood in modern day America. Set in Detroit, the declining motor capital of America, the show takes its focus on Ray Drecker – a man whose life dreams had amounted to nothing. Ray is working as a high school gym teacher, his wife has left him, his family home burnt to the ground, and his finances are crippled. As a result, Ray is struggling with the value of his self worth and his perceived value as a Man.
In his struggle to make some money to rebuild his home, Ray looks to the worlds oldest profession using the only tool at his disposal. One giant, big honkin’ tool. Too subtle? Ray has a very large penis.
It would be easy for Hung to look to Ray Dreckers large member for easy laughs and blatant sensationalism (just as it is easy for TV reviewers who have foolishly missed the point). Instead, the show takes a very well measured look at the relationship that a man has with his physicality and the value that now has in this age of gender equality.
Thomas Jane is great in the lead role of Ray Drecker. He brings to his role an all-American masculinity, with a wounded, downtrodden voice that can never be verbalised. His supporting cast are strong, with Anne Heche as the ex-wife and Jane Adams as his ‘Happiness Expert’ pimp. The real revelation in this shows casting comes from Charlie Saxton and Sianoa Smit-McPhee who portray Rays son and daughter. Neither are Hollywood-perfect and the show is better off for it. They serve as a great juxtaposition against the relative beauty of their parents in the show. Both actors also put in a solid performance.
Hung is a well-constructed, clever show that is most worthy of your time. That said, if there was one complaint that deserves to be leveled at the series, it is simply that we’re not seeing anything we’ve not seen before. The pilot is directed by Alexander Payne who mined similar material in Election, only with a great deal more vibrancy and wit. At times, Hung feels a little bit flat and (yes, I’m going there with this pun) flaccid. The show seems clever when looking at it from the viewpoint of what they’ve done with a show whose central premise is that it stars a gym teacher with a large penis, but once you move beyond that, the themes of the show are simply a little too overt.
Be sure to check Hung out. Hung is excellent in concept, but slightly misses the mark in its execution, but is still one of the finer shows running on Australian screens at the moment.
Hung airs on Channel 7 at 9:30pm Monday nights. Tonights episode has an extra-long (*wink*) premiere with a 60 minute pilot, followed by the second episode.