HBO’s new hour-long series, Tell Me You Love Me, is currently available to view via HBO On Demand. The show officially premieres Sunday night, but Jarren and I decided to take a sneak peek (heads up: HBO viewers headed to Toronto this weekend). I know this is going to sound like a lazy assessment of the show’s first episode, but: it’s a tough one. Tell Me You Love Me revolves around three couples, all coming to terms with sex in some way or another. There’s the long-married couple who don’t have it anymore, the newly-married couple that now want to do it for procreation instead of recreation, and the soon-to-be-married couple who enjoy it but possibly not with each other. The hook that connects them all, is a therapist (played by Jane Alexander).
It sounds as formulaic as a CBS sitcom, except this show is dark, somber, and full of nudity. The somber tone is part of what makes the show a tough one to watch. It’s a rather depressing first episode, full of characters that are frustrated by their adult sex lives. Meanwhile, the sex is impressively candid and raw, but for how many episodes can that sustain a series? There’s going to have to be more drama than sex, if this show is gonna last, in my opinion. Or at least add more drama to the sex. The first episode hints at such conflicts (class issues for one couple, drinking for another, etc.) but there may need to be greater emphasis on everything that sex relates to rather than just the act (or lack thereof). Another minor gripe: for two of the three female leads, they cast actresses that look too much alike (Ally Walker and Sonya Walger).
Plus, a little levity wouldn’t hurt, either. The sex scenes dominate over the quiet and passionless moments, and I kinda want it to be the other way around with maybe a smile or two in the mix. I’ll give it a few more episodes, and so should you, to see if the chemistry works.