Tuesday Timeshift: #3 Tell Me You Love Me (TV)

Well, if I didn’t know any better, I would almost swear that these couples are actually screwing!  Tell Me You Love Me is all about ‘The Sex’ – who’s getting it, who’s not, who’s using it, who’s abusing it.  It’s from HBO, so you know it’s gotta be good, but interestingly it’s Creator, Cynthia Mort, was also Producer on Will & Grace and Roseanne.  Unusual mix!

There are four core stories. Dave (Tim De Kay, Carnivale)  & Katie (Ally Walker, Profiler) – daily life, kids and exhaustion has left them sexless; Carolyn (Sonya Walger, Lost)  & Palek are desparately trying and failing to fall pregnant;  May & Arthur are older, more stable yet still the past looms over them;  and finally Jaime (Michelle Borth) & Hugo and Jaime & Nick (Ian Sommerhalder, Lost), who struggle with the issues of the young, identity, self-worth and commitment. 

In Michelle Borth, Mort has found quite a good talent.  She’s gorgeous but she also has a wry charm and an intelligence that brings warmth to the screen without turning Jaime into a saccharine sweet victim of her own beauty.  Perhaps this is the finest thing about Tell Me You Love Me, the writing.  It’s unflinchingly honest, brutal and true.  Each character, even some of the small bit parts, are plump and layered.  Mort clearly knew each character intimately. 

To be frank, this material is completely removed from the comedy of Mort’s past  – it’s angry.  That’s not to say it doesn’t have light moments, it does.  But these are the stories of couples in pain.  Although, that said, there is at least one wacky sidekick, in baby-hungry Carolyn’s sister Mason,  to lighten the tone from time to time!  My only complaint, if you can call it that, is that it suffers from classic American casting, everyone is so damn gorgeous… it would be nice if just once, someone who was just “pretty” could pick up a role or two!

The sex plays such a powerful role in Tell Me You Love Me.  When it aired in the US there was controversy about the graphic nature.  But it doesn’t feel gratuitous most of the time.  It’s truthful.  It hasn’t been shot to look like perfect sex, or hooker sex for that matter.  There are squelches and awkardness and squashed boobs and hanging balls.  But it is still sexy for all that.  Maybe because of that.  Perhaps it’s a voyeuristic thing?  Either way it’s powerful and quite beautiful.

Tell Me You Love Me aired on HBO last year (2007) and has not been picked up for a 2nd season.  No matter, it’s still worth watching.  It is addictive and engrossing and it’s a shame not to continue their stories but time invested in season 1 is not time wasted.  I imagine, due to the very confronting sex scenes, that it will be buried in Australia in  a fairly tragic timeslot.  So crank up TiVo and put it on the case! 

Is it well-written?  Yes it is.  Is it beautifully shot?  Yes it is.  Is the sex hot?  Yes and is.  But if you don’t want to question you’re own relationship, probably best if you steer clear of this one!