Answering my own questions since 2001

“Hung” is a Poor Man’s “Weeds”

“Hung” is a new TV series from HBO starring Thomas Jane and Jane Adams. Thomas Jane stars as Ray Drecker, a down-on-his-luck, divorced Phys Ed teacher. As his ex-wife (played capably by Anne Heche) points out in a flashback scene, his one admirable attribute is that he’s well-endowed.

In an attempt to raise some money (to fix his house, to reclaim his children from his ex), he becomes a gigolo. Jane Adams plays Tanya, a sweaty, poor poet who becomes his pimp.

Fans of “Weeds” will recognize this premise: “Single parent in dire financial straits turns to socially unacceptable work and hilarity ensues”. Except that, in the case of “Hung”, hilarity definitely does not ensue. Its fatal flaw is that it’s simply not very funny. I watched the first episode of the newest season of “Weeds” last night, and there were more laughs in that show than four episodes of “Hung”. The writing isn’t particularly witty, and Thomas Jane doesn’t seem to be much of a comic actor.

The writing, I think, is at the core of the show’s problems. The characters are all caricatures: Jane plays a buffoon, Adams plays a hippy artist, Heche is the neurotic soccer man. “Weeds”, on the other hand, is populated with these nuanced, complex characters, and that’s often where the comedy stems from.

The writers also ask us to sympathize with Drecker, Jane’s character. This is tricky, because the protagonist is a jerk. Also, on a minor technical note, he’s depicted as pretty dimwitted. Yet in the second episode he uses the term ‘emasculated’ without missing a beat. This rang false to me.

There seems to be a fundamental law of television, that 80% of all potential greatness is locked inside 20% of the shows. That makes choosing what to watch easier, I suppose.

Have you watched “Hung”? Did you like it?

3 Responses to ““Hung” is a Poor Man’s “Weeds””

  1. Meghan

    I really thought this was going to be a fun “hooky” show… I thought he would turn to porn rather than prostitution and I still think that would have been much funnier. What that said, the final moments of the very last episode I watched did, finally, seem to break through the mundane (when he stepped up and owned his choice) and I have hopes for the next couple of episodes.

  2. Norlinda

    The concept sounds like “breaking bad”, which is about a chemistry teacher who resorts to crime to secure his family’s financial future.
    Bryan Cranston is a way better actor than Thomas Jane. Jane, I love you but you should really stick to the action/thriller genre.

  3. Nollind Whachell

    I’ve actually loved every single episode except for the latest one (episode 6?), as that one was like “WTF is going on?”. The reason I probably like the series is that I didn’t have any preconceived notions about it prior to watching it. I most definitely didn’t think it would laugh out loud hilarious, like some other shows. If anything, in watching it so far, I’d say it’s plays more like a tragedy with more drama and a little bit of laughs on the side.

    More than anything though, I like how the stereotypical lead handles the situations he’s placed within, only to discover that life doesn’t respond stereotypically in turn. I mean his showing up at a client’s door and saying “Hey baby. Johnny’s here.”, only to get turned away is so perfect. He thinks he knows everything but he doesn’t really have a clue (which is a perfect sign of the times).

    Last but not least, I’m a huge fan of Thomas Jane, every since I saw his acting potential within the movie The Mist (particularly the end scene). In my opinion he could do amazing work if the right script was given to him. Then again, I’m sure that applies to most actors and actresses. As for his role in Hung though, I think he’s pulling it off as intended, as he supposed to be somewhat average and not quirky or outrageous in any way.

    Overall I’d probably give the show an 8/10.

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