Unlike some critics, I’ve generally liked the HBO series “Hung,” both for its firstrate leads — Thomas Jane and Jane Adams — and its not-so-subtle commentary about the times. The producers stumbled into a perfect metaphor for the moribund economy — a Michigan teacher and struggling artist forced to turn to the roles of male prostitute and pimp, respectively, in a desperate effort to make ends meet.
While I mostly enjoyed the kickoff to the new season, which begins Oct. 2, “Hung” feels like it’s laboring to keep coming up with sources of conflict. The latest hook hinges on the rival pimp (Rebecca Creskoff) to Adams’ character and her bright-eyed new whore (Stephen Amell), who — like Jane’s Ray Drecker — stumbles into a means to cash in on his special “gift.”
“Hung” has always been more than a little campy — as well as an excuse to showcase plenty of pay-TV skin — but the ongoing battle between the characters played by Adams and Creskoff has started to grow tiresome, despite how good the actresses are. The best part about the new dynamic of these competing tandems, frankly, is that it at least initially reduces screen time for Ray’s ex-wife (Anne Heche) and their kids — that family plot having consistently been the show’s weakest element.
Although I’ll continue to watch the series, “Hung” won’t be anywhere near the top of my DVR queue, as it looked like it might be (for me, anyway) back when the show originally premiered. (Notably, I do find this season somewhat improved from my reaction to season two.)
Then again, Ray’s day job included serving as his school’s baseball coach, so perhaps the producers can appreciate that while I was hoping the program would deliver a homerun, “Hung” has taken its bittersweet take on that big stick of a concept and wound up merely hitting a solid single.