Hang­ing out for bet­ter telly

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN Hung sea­son three, Show­case, tonight, 8.30

the Home Box Of­fice net­work’s list of smash hits just goes on and on, and they are known for qual­ity as well as fresh, edgy con­tent.

It’s just a shame that even pay- TV sub­scribers have to wait so long to see these shows in Aus­tralia, to say noth­ing of free- to- air view­ers who of­ten don’t get to see them at all. But that’s what the in­ter­net’s for, I guess.

One of HBO’S top se­ries re­turns to Aus­tar’s Show­case chan­nel tonight, with the pre­miere of sea­son three of Hung.

Hung is the story of di­vorced teacher and coach Ray Drecker ( Thomas Jane) who found a novel way to make a lit­tle money af­ter hit­ting rock bot­tom.

De­spite every­thing else in his life go­ing to hell, Ray still has one thing go­ing in his favour: he is, well, rather well en­dowed.

So, with the help of his un­likely pimp Tanya ( Jane Adams), he starts a new ca­reer as a male pros­ti­tute with a rather im­pres­sive sell­ing point.

All the while, Ray must hide his un­ortho­dox ca­reer from his ex- wife and kids as well as the preda­tory Lenore ( Re­becca Creskoff), who is bit­ter at be­ing dumped as Ray’s pimp/ man­ager and wants re­venge.

This all sounds rather sor­did and I LOVE HBO. I re­ally do. If there was some way I could sub­scribe to it di­rectly in this coun­try and watch every­thing they pro­duce as it went to air in the US, I would hap­pily pay for it.

True Blood, Dead­wood, Board­walk Em­pire, Game of Thrones, En­tourage, In Treat­ment, dirty and the se­ries does have its raunchy mo­ments, but be­neath the sexy ex­te­rior is a sur­pris­ingly thought­ful and in­sight­ful hu­man story about fam­ily bonds, deal­ing with loss, per­sonal iden­tity and friend­ship.

The ‘‘ well- hung male pros­ti­tute’’ con­ceit is just a tempt­ing lure to get your at­ten­tion and draw you in.

And this is the magic of what HBO does: even if you just come for the sex and vi­o­lence, you’ll end up stay­ing when you get hooked on the char­ac­ters and hu­man story.

The se­cret to this is good writ­ing. Fan­tas­tic writ­ing. The sort of writ­ing that makes you for­get the su­per­fi­cial gloss of a show be­cause you’re so busy gaz­ing into its deep, in­ner work­ings.

That sort of writ­ing, sadly, is al­most to­tally ab­sent from com­mer­cial and free- to- air of­fer­ings at present.

Net­works such as HBO, Starz and Show­time demon­strate again and again that not only is there a mar­ket for this sort of qual­ity tele­vi­sion, peo­ple are beg­ging for it.

The lengths peo­ple will go to just to watch these shows il­le­gally is proof of that.

Yet that de­mand con­tin­ues to go ig­nored.

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