"Masters of Sex": Showtime Orders First Season of Masters and Johnson Drama

click to enlarge Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan look just like the professors wandering around at Wash U. - Craig Blankenhorn/SHOWTIME
Craig Blankenhorn/SHOWTIME
Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan look just like the professors wandering around at Wash U.

A pair of Washington University sex researchers are about to get the Mad Men treatment.

About a year ago, Showtime announced that it approved a pilot based on the work and exploits of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the legendary sex researchers who attempted to demystify everything from the female orgasm to homosexuality in the '50s, '60s, and '70s.

Now they've officially ordered Masters of Sex season one -- 12 one-hour episodes set to air in 2013. While few details of the plot have been released, the Masters and Johnson story is bursting with enough titillating story lines to make Don Draper's philandering look positively puritanical.

Take for example that -- before their disastrous marriage -- the pair were sleeping together merely for the purposes of scientific inquiry. Or that Masters's early research techniques involved spying on prostitutes. Or that at one time they set out to cure homosexuality.

Masters and Johnson themselves were also mysterious creatures. Masters -- who'll be played by Michael Sheen -- was a melancholy man who characterized the word "love" as illogical. Johnson, played by Lizzy Caplan, was incredibly brassy and at times ice-cold. She once told a reporter that, after three marriages, she "never married anybody I really cared about." These details all came from the Thomas Meier biography of the pair, Masters of Sex, which inspired and named the show.

Alas, according to a spokesperson from Wash-U's Medical School, none of the school's historians were consulted for the show, nor was the pilot filmed in town. In fact, the show faked it. The first episode used Columbia University in New York City, a decommissioned tubercular hospital in Queens, and shot additional scenes on Long Island. According to the press release, the remaining 11 episodes will be filmed in Los Angeles. Scandalous.

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