‘Masters of Sex’ Breakdown: “One for the Money, Two for the Show”

SPOILERS ABOUND, so don’t screw around…

Season Two, Episode 11: “One for the Money, Two for the Show”

Written by Amy Lippman; Directed by Adam Bernstein

In the penultimate episode of the season, Virginia and Bill face off with CBS over their documentary special and Libby finds her voice.

Quick Breakdown

We open with Virginia and Bill at the hotel. It seems to have been a few days since Bill’s fight with his brother, which ended the last episode. Sporting a black eye, Bill tells Virginia his brother left town. She tries to analyze what happened (them having sex after he got beat up), but Bill doesn’t want to analyze it.

Instead, he wants her to tell him how much she liked it when they had sex. He hopes this will get him hard so he can perform again. It begins to work but doesn’t last — ge loses his erection, and Virginia unsuccessfully tries to comfort him.

The next morning, Virginia’s ex-husband comes by to pick up the kids for school (who have been mostly absent this season). We learn that Virginia has not been very focused on the children and doesn’t remember her daughter’s presentation.

At work, Virginia and Bill are moving forward with the CBS special. The PR guy wants Bill to be a little more inviting, change his tie, and show that he’s a family man to get viewers on board. The interviewer tells him, “It’s okay if you want to smile.” Bill is clearly uncomfortable, and Virginia — as always — is a natural.

But problems quickly arise with censorship. The interviewer doesn’t want them to mention anything about masturbation and wants them to only mention couples (so that people can assume they are talking about married people). They also can’t say the word “orgasm,” a stipulation that increases Bill’s frustration with the project.

A frustrated Lester is also having trouble with the film guy from CBS who wants to find a way to splice together some of Lester’s footage for the special. But they can’t really show anything because it’s all too graphic.

When Libby comes in to bring a new tie to Bill, she spots Robert in the lobby. He tells her about Dr. King being arrested in Atlanta, but Libby says she can’t help today due to Bill’s TV special. They want to interview her briefly to show Bill as a family man.

While Libby is waiting for her turn, Bill finally finds his voice and gives a good speech about the importance of using the language of sex and adding these words to our everyday vocabulary (including the words they can’t use on TV). Virginia adds in her thoughts, and they even finish each other’s sentences. The crew is clearly pleased.

Episode 211

Libby watches from the doorway, and it’s clear she feels very left out, knowing she will never have what Virginia has with Bill. After waiting for quite some time, Libby leaves and goes down to the CORE office.

They are waiting to hear news about Dr. King, but as the night goes on, it’s clear no news is coming. They decide to call it a night, but Libby doesn’t have a car and Bill is still working. Robert offers to take her home. On the ride home, he tries to further educate Libby about the issues, but she questions him about why he’s always testing her. She says that she believes in the cause even if she doesn’t know all the specifics.

They pull up outside of Libby’s house, and a police officer comes over to the car to ask what they’re doing. Libby tells him everything is fine, but the officer wants Robert to move along. Libby says she was just inviting him in. They get out of the car and inside with only a minor incident with the officer, though he does slightly rip Robert’s shirt.

Once inside, in a scene that oozes sexual tension, Libby offers to fix the shirt. As they talk, she’s clearly coming on to Robert, telling him how she never got to be a kid — that she’s tired of always following the rules. She learned to be quiet but then forgot she even had a voice until she met someone (Robert) who didn’t see her as the polite good girl and didn’t like her that much.

She tells him she doesn’t know who she is. He questions her interest in him, but then she tells him to kiss her. He hesitates, and she kisses him, which leads to a passionate sex scene. (Libby is finally getting some.)

Back at the office, Virginia’s ex-husband comes by to tell her he got a gig in Europe and wants the kids to come with him for six weeks over the holidays. Virginia isn’t pleased, but he points out that she is hardly seeing them, suggesting that they should come with him.

Virginia meets with the divorce lawyer who rents space in their building and asks him about her situation with the kids. He tells her she should let them go with her ex-husband for six weeks because refusing could lead to more trouble. Virginia gives in and invites the kids to the office for dinner, telling them they can go to Europe.

Meanwhile, CBS finds a couple that they want to film as an example of Bill and Virginia doing an intake interview. Bill and Virginia are unsure about the use of a fake couple or to imply they “help couples have sex.” Bill worries about presenting themselves as saviors of sexual dysfunction when they haven’t cured anyone yet (including him).

After everyone leaves, Virginia tells him he did well, but Bill says he doesn’t have a “twinkle.” “Why would anyone want to watch me?” he asks. Virginia gets frustrated by having to constantly reassure him, but she realizes at the root of Bill’s problem is his lack of self-confidence. He worries he isn’t attractive enough to do this or for Virginia to want him. Virginia says she finds him attractive and takes him in her arms as the camera pulls back and the episode comes to a close. Can she save him?



This was a standout episode, filled with so many great moments that dealt with the complications of presenting sex on TV in the 1950s. But it was Libby and Robert’s storyline that really shined.

The entire season has been building the sexual tension between Libby and Robert, and I wasn’t completely sure if this was a good thing or not. It’s a storyline that could easily fall into clichés or stereotypes, but their final scene in the episode was so well written that it rose above the possible issues and made Libby and Robert into even more complex characters. They are not completely sure why they are doing what they are doing, and I like that uncertainty. They didn’t make it so clear-cut.

With just one episode left of the season, we will have to see how Libby’s sexual relationship with Robert changes things and if Bill and Virginia can move past their own dysfunctions to bring their research to a broad audience.

Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…

Virginia’s kids haven’t aged with the time jump.

Virginia and Libby wearing the same color was a nice touch.

Robert and Libby’s kiss scene was one of the best-written moments of the season.

I’m not really sure Dr. Langham and Flo’s storyline is working. It feels a little disconnected from everything else.

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