Ray Drecker joins a self-help group that convinces him he can become a self-made millionaire if he taps into his own secret weapon in HBO's new drama, Hung.

thomas-janeThis year we’ve seen several US cable series that are short run, quality pieces that remind us all the good stuff is not coming out of network television. United States of Tara, Nurse Jackie, and although it’s longer, True Blood.

Hung is about to join their ranks.

The HBO series depicts Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane), a down and out Detroit high school basketball coach, divorced from his wife, trying to keep his family of two kids together and not doing a very good job of it.

It opens with metaphorical images of a decaying Motor City, where once-glorious manufacturing and corporate America thrived. Now buildings are empty, being torn down and unemployment queues linger. Ray tries to motivate his high school team but his mind is on other exploits: his moonlighting job as a male escort.

Thomas Jane (The Punisher, Deap Blue Sea) is a perfect middle-aged leading man, who surely cut a dashing figure just ten years earlier. As Ray he shows signs of weariness that help justify our rather surprising storyline. He can just get away with being a Romeo, yet not without showing signs of vulnerability.

When the family home accidentally burns down, Ray is at wit’s end. His apathetic Gen-Y twins, played by Charlie Saxton and Australia’s Sianoa Smit-McPhee, are more interested in rock concerts, staying out late and dressing in Emo- black. The last thing they want to do is camp in a tent in their burnt-out backyard because their father is too poor to come up with a better plan.

His ex-wife (Anne Heche) is married to a sucessful dermatologist. The new neighbour next door has a swanky house and repeated requests for Ray to clean up his eyesore home. Success is all around him but continually out of reach.

Ray joins a self-help group that convinces him he can become a self-made millionaire if he taps into his own secret weapon. Devoid of any self-belief, Ray decides to market his huge appendage, and puts an ad in a local paper to become a male escort.

What a man won’t do these days just to keep his family together…

There’s a lot of similarity between Hung and Californication: jaded middle-aged dads, dysfunctional families, sex scenes, distant wives.

While Hank Moody always boasts about his conquests, Ray Drecker leads a double life, only sustaining the career move as a means to an end.

There is truth here that rises above any instant gratification over the blatant title and bold premise.

This is a promising ensemble drama about a man who thinks with his penis for a very good reason.

4_starsHung airs 8.30pm Wednesday November 25 on Showcase and will come to Seven later in 2010.

12 Responses

  1. The shows alright, some great moments, but ultimately leaves a lot to be desired and can be quite bland at times.

    Where as comparing it to californication isn’t really that apt besides sex is a central theme. Quite different shows and Calfornication has such great energy and humour that Hung sorely lacks.

    My thoughts though are, it’s entertaining, but not must see tv.

  2. @par3182: I know we could go tit for tat with this, but it was one of my favourite shows of the fall season, with a standout pilot.

    Plus Anne Heche does crazy well, so that doesn’t hurt. Can’t say I was in love with the kids though.

  3. @Kfed Any readers who can’t see that Worner was having a laugh really take life too seriously. He wasn’t giving the show a review – he was succinctly describing the premise! I’m just glad we’ll get to see it on free to air – hopefully in a decent slot.

  4. Even given it’s premise IMO Hung is less about sex (compare to Californication) and more about relationships and the drama.

    Good to see it will be coming to Seven, just a matter of when and will it be on 7TWO or the main channel?

  5. I would just hate to let this moment pass without mention of the great Tim Worner’s infamous review of the show: ““Essentially it’s a show about a bloke with a whopping schlonger.”

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