HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me has made viewers who are in serious relationships squirm with discomfort, though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The new drama series, which centers on three couples who are trying to cope with different kinds of intimacy issues, have forced some real-life couples who tune in to the show to examine the problems in their own relationships.

“[One] couple actually…  started therapy because of the show,” series creator and executive producer Cynthia Mort, whose drama reveals the subtleties of relationships in and out the bedroom, told the New York Daily News.  “When two people are having sex, they’re at their most exposed and so many things come out.  We had to be there with them and not cut away.”

According to psychologist Joy Davidson, HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me is effective because it presents a more realistic depiction of sexuality.

“The majority of shows on TV portray sexuality at a high level of excitement and passion, but this show offers a lens into sexuality that is more true to life – couples running in circles and bumping into walls,” she explained.  “If couples look at it and say, ‘Oh no, they’re just like us,’ then it’s not an aphrodisiac.”

The couples featured in the series, Jamie and Hugo (Michelle Borth and Luke Farrell Kirby), Katie and Dave (Ally Walker and Tim DeKay), and Carolyn and Palek (Sonya Walger and Adam Scott), seek the help of a therapist (Jane Alexander) to help them overcome their issues.  Jamie and Hugo use sex as a way to escape confronting the issues of infidelity and commitment in their relationship, while Katie and Dave are having a hard time translating their love for each other to intimacy in the bedroom.  Carolyn and Palek are unable to conceive a child, and such inability has caused a strain their relationship.

“They are all in these troublesome relationships and sex doesn’t seem fun for any of them,” Leah, a 25-year-old consultant from Brooklyn who watched the first episode with her boyfriend, said.  The show’s graphic content did little to put the couple in the mood.  Instead, it made them think two things: “Thank God we’re not them” and “Are we going to turn into them?”

Another viewer, a public relations executive named Rembrandt, has been in a committed relationship for six years and said that he and his partner can relate most to Katie and Dave.

“When I watched it with my partner, it made me squirm,” he said.  “I saw their relationship problems and started to think maybe we should be talking about our problems.  But that makes me not want to talk about them even more … which creates more problems.”

Rembrandt also said that he and his partner often watch more lighthearted series “maybe because it’s sort of escapist.”

According to couples counselor Lori Hollander, there is truth Rembrandt’s assertion, as many couples use television as a means to escape.

“It sounds like [Tell Me You Love Me] is directly tap-ping on certain issues, that [some couples] don’t want to talk about, but they actually could be using it as a catalyst to discuss these issues,” Hollander said.

This is just what 27-year-old Kelly Brady did.

“I watched the first episode with my husband.  When we watched that [married] couple not having sex I was like, ‘We can never get like that’ – so we were able to talk about that,” Brady, who has been married for a year and lives in Manhattan, said.

Tell Me You Love Me airs Sunday nights at 9pm on HBO.

-Lisa Claustro, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: New York Daily News
(Image Courtesy of HBO)


Staff Columnist, BuddyTV