Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s soccer falls to Central Connecticut 3-0 in home opener -

August 19, 2017

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

‘Hung’ Up on HBO’s Raunchy New Drama

It’s the world’s oldest profession, and cable TV’s newest topic du jour. Although prostitution is illegal in most places and frowned upon in others, it has become the subject of choice for many television shows and movies. Showtime has “Secret Diary of a Call Girl,” about a woman who records her adventures as a call girl. But not since Deuce Bigolo have we seen a mainstream effort to explore the life and travails of a male prostitute. HBO has changed that, jumping on the bandwagon for their summer line-up (alongside “Entourage” and “True Blood”) with “Hung,” a show about what its like to be a male hooker. The title pretty much says it all.

The main character, Ray Drecker, is portrayed by Thomas Jane, whose past credits include “The Punisher” and Stephen King’s “The Mist.” As a divorced high school basketball coach with two kids, the show opens with Ray suffering from a series of unfortunate events – including a fire in his house, his two kids moving in with their mother (a desperate Anne Heche) and the inability to make ends meet. Ray is a relatable character – Jane does an excellent job of showing Ray’s soft side as well as his devotion to – and desire to provide for – his kids, which helps motivate him to become a prostitute. Because in the end, prostitution is always for the kids.

The show itself drags on a little bit. Because it’s HBO, that means it has a green light for swearing, violence and nudity. Considering the show is called “Hung,” most viewers probably expect it to be more smutty and less plot-driven, but that isn’t the case at all. The nudity and sexuality are only subplots within the lives of Ray Drecker, his family and the other supporting characters.

After meeting a woman named Tanya at a self-help success seminar, Ray confides in her that he wants to start working on the side as a prostitute, and she agrees to be his “pimp.” The character of Tanya (played by Jane Adams)  seems written-in for comic relief – because although Ray Drecker is a relatable character, he just isn’t really that entertaining. Tanya and Drecker’s ex-wife, Jessica Haxon (Heche) pick up the slack from the character of Ray. But Ray isn’t supposed to be funny, so it’s not that big of a flaw. He is just a single dad trying to fix all the mistakes in his life; prostitution seems to be the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tanya, on the other hand, is unbelievably scatter-brained, working as a temp at a law office and trying to find a way out of her situation. This is what makes her likeable as a character. As an audience, it’s hard not to sympathize with Tanya’s endearing persona or with the situations she’s put in. Even under the most stress (for example, losing the partnership with Drecker), she stays in complete control of her emotions and still manages to keep a lightness to the character.

The first four episodes are mostly uneventful. They chronicle the life of Drecker and his encounter with many unfortunate events during one period of time; they also cover the back story with his wife and kids. Despite its slow pace in the first couple episodes, the writing is unbelievably clever and the situations seem genuine of those that might be experienced by an unlucky, middle-aged guy. The characters are really what drive the show. Once Drecker finally gets on his feet within his chosen side profession, it seems that the show will gain more momentum and possibly pull in a larger audience. Up until now, the previews for the coming episodes have been more monumental than the episodes themselves. But ultimately, “Hung,” which airs on Sunday nights on HBO at 10 p.m. (between “True Blood,” which airs at 9 p.m., and “Entourage” at 10 p.m.), is a nice addition to the summer lineup.

Haley Navarro can be reached at hnavarro@student.umass.edu.

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