Tell Me You Love Me: A True Dose of Reality

tellme14_2.jpgFrom what I’d heard about HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me, I expected some kind of combination of Big Love, Sex and the City, Coupling, and the bit more dramatic often on Queer As Folk – aka all edgy relationship shows combined.

But Tell Me You Love Me is an entirely different thing. It’s not all about sex, but it’s got it in there. It’s just it’s not actually sexy in the context of three couples having very real (a little too real) relationship issues around and about the sex.

As critic Tim Goodman so well describes, “‘Tell Me You Love Me’ is not about sex, it’s about intimacy and the complicated, broken or lost connections between lovers. It’s also about therapy – the kind meant to bring the parties involved back together in some meaningful way. And it’s not the fun kind of therapy where people have breakthroughs and revelations. It’s much more real than that. Because the series strives – quite effectively – to get past gloss and down into the painful, unvarnished aspects of marriage and love and the meaning of partnership and intimacy, it gives up the one thing that makes watching television such a joy: the fun part” (Goodman).

It’s practically real reality TV (without the horrific cheesiness and created drama). It’s like cameras were stuck in these couples’ homes as they go through their painful relationship issues with very honest places where things are said, not said, things are seen that should not be seen, and lovers know more about each other than they should and sometimes don’t know each other at all. Sounds a little heavy? Well it is… yet it’s completely fascinating.

The show follows three couples and a couples therapist (and her husband) who they all end up seeing, Dr. May Foster (Jane Alexander). Carolyn (Sonya Walger) and Palek (Adam Scott) are a married couple in their 30s who’ve been trying to have a child, but haven’t had any success over a year which has put an incredible strain on their relationship. Katie (Ally Walker) and Dave (Tim DeKay) are a married couple in their 40s with two children who haven’t had sex in a year, which isn’t ignored, but hangs in the air all the time between them. Jamie (Michelle Borth) and Hugo (Luke Farrell Kirby) are a young couple in their 20s who are engaged who are plenty intimate, but Hugo doubts if he can truly commit to be with one person for the rest of his life.

The struggles of these couples are very raw and real – who don’t deal with their issues in a witty and fun way like they’re acting on TV or even in a over-dramatic way like they’re Meredith Grey and McDreamy, but like they’re real couples alone in their homes.

As Goodman says, “It may be difficult for anyone to plop themselves on the couch or in bed on Sunday night and enjoy the experience of three couples unraveling” (Goodman). But, Tell Me You Love Me is certainly an interesting show worth watching that has fantastic acting, and some definite genius in and behind it – it’s doing something that’s truly not been done on TV, which is a great thing but is yet to be revealed if viewers can on one hand handle it, and on the other actually enjoy watching it.

Tell Me You Love Me premieres on HBO Sunday, September 9th at 9/8c. It’s also available now on HBO On Demand.

Watch the trailer now: Tell Me You Love Me Trailer


Goodman, Tim. “‘Tell Me you Love Me’ HBO’s intimate therapy session.” 7 Sept 2007.

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