In the opening of season three of this HBO series, produced by Alexander Payne, we hear our hero Ray Drecker speaks of the American spirit. He specifically speaks of the never say die spirit ofDetroit, arguably one of the cities hardest hit by the recession. As he speaks we see working class people selling produce at farmer’s markets, rebuilding small businesses, and pulling together to paint and keep their city clean. Although his speech is full of hope and optimism, we soon find out that he and his business partner Tanya Skagle, played by the wonderful Jane Adams, are actually struggling through some difficult times. If you’re not familiar with this series, let me explain all the embarrassing details. Ray Drecker is a divorced high school teacher and coach who has two teen-age kids, and a dilapidated house on a lake. In season one; he was trying his best to earn some extra money to rebuild his house, which had been partly destroyed by fire. After a one night stand with Tanya, a struggling poet/baker, she discovers that Ray is gifted in a very particular way. I won’t waste any words. Ray has a very large penis. Tanya convinces him that he should put his gift to good use, and she helps him offer his services to a few women for extra money. Eventually hard times and necessity make the pleasure giving service a mostly full time venture for Ray and Tanya.
Last season some tension developed between Ray and Tanya, due largely to Lenore Bernard, played by Rebecca Creskoff. Lenore was a onetime client who tried to muscle Tanya out, and turn Ray into her own personal money maker. Eventually Ray realized that Tanya was more worthy of his loyalty, and he also lost his full-time job with the school, causing him to rely on hustling even more. In season three Ray and Tanya are trying to open a wellness center of sorts, specifically to help women become more confident with regards to their sexuality. Orgasmic Living is how Tanya describes this center, and she begins each group session by playing an audio tape of her having an orgasm. She figures that when these women match this seemingly uptight woman with the screams of joy on the tape, it might be a great selling point. It turns out that this is not the case, and her and Ray are now trying to get a small business loan from a bank. As it turns out, Tanya senses that the reluctant female loan officer might be a potential client. The loan officer has a close girl friend who works as a teller, and the two agree to meet Tanya and Jane, and hear their pitch. Ray soon has the two women alone in a hotel room, and it seems they have some unresolved issues with each other that Ray manages to bring to the surface. As much as he would have liked to, Ray’s services are not needed in this particular case, but he still gets the loan, and he and Tanya have a full book of new clients.
Things are soon looking up for Ray and Tanya. His house is rebuilt, she’s got her wellness center, and Ray even sees a chance at being reunited with his ex-wife Jessica, played by Anne Heche. Meanwhile, Lenore, who’s seen better days, discovers a stud of her own that might turn out to be stiff competition for Ray. While this guy is as well endowed as Ray, he’s at least twenty years younger, and Lenore sets her sights on her former partners. This season looks promising, with Jane doing a great job of making Ray a man who can be admired one moment, then pitiful the next.Adams, as usual, shows great comic timing and a natural likability. It will be interesting to see how things shape up for Ray and Tanya this season, and if the script manages to maintain the light yet timely look at American resolve during hard times. Other returning characters include; Ray’s kids played by Charlie Saxton and Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Jessica’s husband Ronnie played by Eddie Jamison, and Charlie a fellow pimp played by Lennie James. Hung is a good example of a sex comedy that, despite the plot, doesn’t rely entirely on jokes below the belt to be funny. This is a character driven sex comedy, and one that features a talented cast, and some great dialog.