Created by Michelle Ashford, the period drama focuses on real-life sexologists William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan). Taking place in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the series is a clear successor to Mad Men, and its take on gender is just as sophisticated and complex as that on the AMC series.
However, Masters of Sex isn’t just a Mad Men copycat. As I’ve written here, it distinguished itself from the Don Draper series in its debut season by tackling gay issues from both the perspective of a closeted gay man (Beau Bridges) and his desperately lonely wife (Allison Janney). And in its vastly improved sophomore season, Masters of Sex addresses issues of race — and their intersections with gender — in the milieu of pre-civil-rights-movement St. Louis in ways that are much more complicated and gray than depictions we’ve seen before.
Masters of Sex received five Emmy nominations for its first season, including an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series nod for Caplan and Guest Actor/Actress nods for Bridges and Janney. This past weekend, Janney won the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series award.