‘Hung’ 2.01 Recap: It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp

Along with ‘Entourage’, HBO has also brought back ‘Hung’ this week. I realize that this is a divisive show that doesn’t click with everyone. (Drew pretty much trashed it in his review of the first season Blu-ray set, for example.) It took me a while to warm up to it as well, but I did eventually. I like the characters and, by the end of the first season, I was digging it. The second season premiere, which is none-too-subtly titled ‘Just the Tip’, is a pretty strong return.

Not a lot has changed for our characters since we last left things. Ray is still struggling to make ends meet and pay for the (painfully slow) repairs to his house. The school has cut back on its budget so badly that the baseball team he’s now coaching can’t afford uniforms or equipment. The school will pay to bus the players to away games, but not to bring them back.

On the Happiness Consultants side of things, Lenore has more-or-less taken over the business responsibilities and pushed Tanya aside. In fact, she tolerates Tanya so little that she makes Ray pay to keep her around out of his own cut. When Tanya learns this, she thinks it will be a good idea to talk to some real street hookers about their pimping situation – for tips, or something. They aren’t too talkative. Their pimp (Lennie James from ‘Snatch‘ and ‘Jericho’) scares her off because he doesn’t appreciate her wasting his girls’ time.

Well, Tanya perseveres. The next day, she steels up her courage and talks to the pimp directly, seeking advice. He’s amused that this mousy little woman would have the balls to do such a thing. So he gives her one good tip: A pimp’s gotta keep the ho on a tight leash. If the ho doesn’t like it, the pimp’s gotta make the ho want the leash. Tanya must prove herself invaluable to Ray, so that he’ll recognize her as the superior pimp over Lenore. She decides to refuse Ray’s portion of the cut from then on. She will work for free until she can demonstrate her worth.

Ray’s main client this week is a pregnant woman. She isn’t too pleased with his service on the first attempt. He’s obviously holding back, only giving her “just the tip.” He claims that he’s afraid to hurt the baby. It turns out that the real reason is that she reminds him of how much he enjoyed sex with ex-wife Jessica when she was pregnant. Not just for the sex itself, but for the emotional connection. He’s afraid to go there with a client. Tanya’s recommendation is to embrace the fantasy and go all the way. He should pretend the client is Jessica and attempt to satisfy her both physically and emotionally. He does, and she indeed seems pretty satisfied.

As for Jessica, she’s clearly frazzled by the events of last season, in which she almost had sex with a prostitute (who, unbeknownst to her, would have been Ray). She tries to direct her energies into interfering in her kids’ lives. This leads to the revelation that they pity her for the way that she has continually given over her life to the men in it, first Ray and now Ronnie. She won’t admit it, but starts to recognize the truth in that.

Ray is still screwing his sexy neighbor (Alanna Ubach, who is plenty naked this episode – Yowzah!) for free. But he also spends most of the episode trying to figure out why Jessica is unhappy in her marriage, and whether he can use that to insinuate himself back into her life. His plan of action is simply to be nice to her, to listen to her when she wants to talk, and to take her on an impromptu bowling date. It seems to be working. She’s definitely warming to him.

While nothing hugely dramatic happens in the premiere, it’s nonetheless a solid episode in all respects.

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