TV Review: HBO’s ‘Hung’ With Thomas Jane is Surprisingly Limp

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CHICAGO – Pardon the obvious metaphors, but when you name a show “Hung” and feature a motivational speech about the lead character finding “his tool,” it’s damn-near impossible not to fall into the same pattern. Despite a clever set-up and talented cast, the new HBO comedy starring Thomas Jane, Jane Adams, and Anne Heche is missing that spark, that chemistry that elevates an experience from being just another TV one-night stand. Television Rating: 3.0/5.0
Television Rating: 3.0/5.0

“Hung” uses male sexuality to comment on the state of the economy today. What is the one thing they can’t take away from the unemployed, divorced, miserable modern man? His enormous pecker.

Thomas Jane.
Thomas Jane.
Photo credit: Chuck Hodes/HBO

The funnier-than-you-think (don’t forget his amazing guest role on “Arrested Development”) Thomas Jane stars as the former high school sports legend turned middle-aged loser Ray Drecker, a Detroit high school basketball coach struck by a string of bad luck. His wife (Anne Heche) leaves him, his twin children Darby (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) & Damon (Charlie Saxton) take her side, he gets kidney stones, and his house burns down. Living in a tent in his own backyard, Ray is at the end of his line.

Thomas Jane.
Thomas Jane.
Photo credit: Chuck Hodes/HBO

Ray attends a seminar, where he runs into an old one-night stand, hippie poet Tanya (Jane Adams). They decide to take another trip around the quickie block and get into a fight in which Tanya suggests that the only thing Ray has left is his huge dick and that perhaps that’s what he should use to make his fortune. She means it as an insult. Ray takes it seriously.

Before you know it, Ray is at the Motor City Casino meeting a client who answered his ad in the paper or happened across the picture of his penis online. He’s skipping out on the basketball game he should be coaching, but he’ll make the money so his son can go to the Goth concert he wants to attend by any means necessary.

The concept of “Hung,” created by the talented Dmitry Lipkin (“The Riches”) and Colette Burson, is undeniably clever. No matter how deep the recession goes, people will always want sex and a man with a giant penis might not think it’s that crazy to try and make some money with it. And Jane and Adams are well-cast and interesting. (On the other hand, Heche gets a thankless, shrill role as the ex-wife.)

Jane Adams and Thomas Jane.
Jane Adams and Thomas Jane.
Photo credit: Chuck Hodes/HBO

The great Alexander Payne (“Sideways”) directed the first episode of “Hung” and he has an easy-going, casual style that would fit the material if it had a first, second, and third act and was allowed to play out like a feature film. For a pilot of a comedy, something that needs to grab the audience’s attention, an audience used to seeing the incredibly briskly-paced “True Blood” and “Entourage” on Sunday nights, Payne might not have been the best fit.

I kept waiting for “Hung” to “kick in” and get to a climax. (Once again, sorry for the metaphor.) It drags when it needs to zip. And Jane is a little too dull. Where’s the righteous indignation of a man brought to his knees by a world that once put him on a pedestal? There’s no passion in this character outside of a few profanities in his narration and that decision leaves the whole pilot feeling kind of laid back.

For “Hung” to work, we need to feel Ray’s plight and want to see where his weekly sexual adventures will take him. We need to want him to dig his way out of the hole that life has thrown him in. We don’t after the pilot. Ray’s a blank, a non-character, and the script combined with Payne’s direction just don’t make him feel real.

Even with the flaws of the pilot, there is a lot to like about the potential of “Hung”. It doesn’t overplay its concept like a tawdry Fox sitcom and the cast is certainly talented enough to fix the pacing issues present in the pilot, but “Hung” could use a dose of creative Viagra.

‘Hung’ premieres on HBO on Sunday, June 28th, 2009 at 9pm CST. It stars Thomas Jane, Jane Adams, and Anne Heche. It was created by Dmitry Lipkin and Colette Burson. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Anony Mous's picture


I just watched the pilot for this show, and I laughed pretty hard. Maybe it’s because it fit my sense of humor, but I was fairly amused. I intend on watching this again in July when the next show airs.

Kenn's picture

Hang in there for Hung!

Freud would have certainly concurred in the notion that, “it is all about dick.” I have watched all of the episodes thus far and also heard that it was renewed for a second season. So, I assume that its popularity is in place. I think, with proper care, this show has potential. Perhaps even ENORMOUS POTENTial!

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