As I feared, "Tell Me You Love Me" takes itself far too seriously and it constantly reminds us that this is Serious Business and shouldn't be watched just for the sex. Which begs the question, what is the point of the real sex? I’ll continue watching (for a bit) of course, because it’s...got real sex in it. Duh. Realistically done too, if not especially hot. Because this is not a show where a bunch of cleverly told stories build towards a bunch of great sex scenes, oh no. That, I imagine, would show the audience too much of a good time and *that's not what this is about*.
Mainly I have issues with how the sex relates to the premise: four couples who are not particularly happy (except the old couple, so far, but who really wants to see them fucking anyway? Not that we have to -- yet. In the pilot their sex scene is tastefully lit, they’re fully clothed and we don’t so much as glimpse any skin or genitals) punctuate moaning about their miserable lives with the occasional bout of tensionless sex.
Episode 1 asks us to care about unhappy couples fucking (or not fucking). WHY? I *knew* this would happen. The aim is not to be erotic, but to show us that...what? Sex is not very sexy? Realtionships suck? Even the supposedly happy-ish couple's story (the ones trying and “failing” to get pregnant) is weighed down by the sombre script and direction (although their sex scene is quite lovely). Again, why do so many people (writers, directors, viewers) believe that serious drama requires all the characters to be unhappy and have no sense of humour?
Let’s look at the youngest couple, who are in love and recently engaged. Within minutes of their first scene their relationship is thrown into turmoil when Jaime overhears Hugo saying to his buddies that if he ever stops wanting Jaime exclusively he’ll “deal with it”. He wants them to begin their marriage honestly and to admit that it’s unlikely they will go their whole lives and never be attracted to anyone else. She can’t accept that.
This storyline might have been more effective (as opposed to annoying and dull) in episode 2.
Similarly, David and Katie have a great relationship except that they don’t have sex. Except…they really don’t seem to have a great relationship. There’s a lot of tell instead of show in this program. We get told that they love each other because he calls her from the car on the way to work to tell her he misses her already, but the rest of their scenes together are an example of what *no one in their right mind* would want in a relationship.
I would have been a lot more engaged with this pilot if they’d shown us all the ways in which these relationships *work*. Let’s look at *why* these people are together, and *hint* at the cracks under the surface. Stop shoving those cracks in my face! (Excuse the pun.) It's just bad storytelling, quite frankly. You start on a downer then there's nowhere left to go, except down further, and who the fuck wants to watch that show?
A warmer, funnier, less soul-sucking first episode would have given the audience something to be invested in. If we were given the opportunity to give a shit about these characters and their relationships then we’d be more likely to care A) when they fuck and B) when things start going wrong for them. As it is, I’m dying for some new characters to come in and for everyone to start having affairs because none of these relationships are enviable or appealing. None of them seem to be worth saving.
So that's my verdict. I'll give it a few more tries and I'll hope for it to be smutty, but I'm afraid I have low hopes for the future of this show.