TVLine's Performer of the Week: Lizzy Caplan

MASTERS OF SEX (Pilot)A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER Lizzy Caplan

THE SHOW | Masters of Sex

THE EPISODE | “Pilot”

THE AIRDATE | Sept. 29, 2013

THE PERFORMANCE | If an actress is very, very lucky, once in her career, she’ll get the part — the one that finally shows all the world just how brilliantly she sparkles. For Sarah Michelle Gellar, for instance, that role was Buffy. For Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars. And now, for Lizzy Caplan, at last there is Virginia Johnson.

We’ve loved her for years, in everything from The Class to New Girl. But not until we saw her in the pilot for Masters of Sex did we realize that she wasn’t merely as good as we thought, she was even better.

Over the course of the series’ promising first hour, singer-turned-secretary Virginia allowed her portrayer to charm the pants off obsessed doc Ethan Haas (“Well, friends can kiss”), talk herself into a job with renegade sex researcher William Masters (by explaining without embarrassment why a woman might fake an orgasm) and reel from the disappointment of her new boss’ indecent proposal (“Can I take the weekend to think about this?”).

But the best part of all? As engaging as Caplan was every step of the way — depicting hope, chutzpah and hurt with admirable subtlety — we have a feeling that the best is yet to come. Or, to put it in terms that Virginia might, that was only foreplay.

HONORABLE MENTION | Here and there throughout Season 2, Scandal‘s Joe Morton had the occasional park bench scene, whispering oblique orders to Jake or making veiled threats to Cyrus. But in the Season 3 premiere, the veteran actor was afforded opportunity to show off his true chops, going toe-to-toe with no less than Olivia Pope – aka Rowan’s daughter. Venting his disappointment in her First Mistress status, he roared, “Did I not raise you for better? How many times have I told you? … You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.” Then when he got pushback on his fix-it plan: “You’re getting on that plane come hell or high water. And make no mistake, I’m the hell and the high water!” And you believed him.

What performance knocked your socks off this week?

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29 Comments
  1. Roger says:

    It’s Lizzy Caplan, of course she wins!

    • NCIS4evr says:

      Yep, Michael Weatherly. He’s very under-rated.

      • M3rc Nate says:

        Under-rated isnt the right word, under-UTILIZED is the right word. He has SO much potential and acting chops, and is used for dumb repetitive crime solving and head slaps. Its like forcing the best QB in football to throw less than 10 yards for each pass…when they have the potential to throw 20,30,50,TD passes.

  2. Tora says:

    Charles Esten, as always! “I’ve got nothing. I am nothing. So you need to let me be. Please!”

  3. AmberM says:

    Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo were amazing!!!

  4. Slizabeth says:

    I’m the hell and the high water – the best line of acting I saw this week. Hands down.

  5. Jennifer says:

    If we’re judging on who made me cry in 60 seconds or less, the winner is Jennifer Morrison.

  6. Zach says:

    Wait wait wait! The doctor in this is Ethan Haas which is the same name as her true love in The Class?! This role was meant to be…

  7. Esaul says:

    Hmm. I swore I made a comment about Joe Morton and Jeff Perry…guess not :D But yeah, Joe definitely deserves a mention, and I hope someday Jeff Perry makes it on here. He always excels at his role!

  8. Crystal says:

    Joe Morton and Kerry Washington were both great this week! Michael Weatherly was also wonderful. He was able to show a stronger more serious Tony without taking away the humor we love.

  9. Philip says:

    I’m surprised that you guys never chose Bryan Cranston for “Breaking Bad” in the last 8 weeks! If anything, he should’ve been chosen for the “Ozymandias” episode instead of baby Holly

    • NCIS4evr says:

      I agree about the Ozymandias episode. But the guy had three Emmy’s to console him, so I’m good.

    • missvci says:

      I feel like Performer of the Week is more for the underrated actors and/or for underrated shows or even an underrated actor in an acclaimed series. The only exception I can think of was Claire Danes for the episode Q&A, but other than that is goes to the unsung heroes which i like because yes Bryan Cranston has swooped up every award for Breaking Bad

  10. JeffDJ says:

    I thought Demian Bichir was really good on the finale of “The Bridge” this week.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Wonderful choice. It amazes me that it has taken people this long to notice Lizzy Caplan. Masters of Sex has surpassed all of my expectations so far.

  12. em says:

    Masters of Sex is the best pilot I’ve seen so far (Thanks, TVLine). Lizzy Caplan was thrown a lot of scenes in which she had to show a range of emotions and she was wonderful in all of them.

  13. missvci says:

    I always have called Lizzy Caplan Queen of cancelled TV series, which is a shame because I love her and I loved most of her cancelled tv shows. In fact I refused to watch Big Bang Theory for 3 years because I was still mad that some dumb nerdy science geeks was the reason my beloved “The Class” wasn’t back on my tv screen. (Now Big Bang is one of my favorite sitcoms and I’m happy that Lizzy has finally found a show that won’t get cancelled)

    So happy that you gave her the recognition she deserves. I feel with all the great new shows and old shows returning revamped, that performer of the week will get tougher and tougher.

  14. Rikke says:

    Michael weatherly

  15. Reba says:

    Michael Weatherly for sure!! Regardless of whether or not Cote was leaving, he still would have made me cry!

  16. Ram510 says:

    I’m happy to see someone else also agrees that Jon Morton put on an excellent performance. Best if the week if you ask me

  17. Shaun says:

    I’d probably go with Deeks or Hayden Panettiere

  18. She’s been my girl crush for ever, always always awesome, and now she finally has a great show to shine on. So happy for her!

  19. Britta Unfiltered says:

    At this point I’m pretty convinced Lizzy Caplan is going to win the Golden Globe. Claire Danes better watch her back when Emmy time comes around next year.

  20. Audrey says:

    Agree with both of these choices. Lizzy fans – watch her in the extremely underrated “Party Down”.

    Speaking of – curious to know if comedic performances are ever selected?

  21. Congrats Lizzy! If you’d like to know more about Masters and Johnson — or my book “Masters of Sex” which is the basis for the television series — please contact ThomasMaierBooks [dot] com. On this website, there is a lot of material about the making of this new show from my biography. You can also obtain the book “Masters of Sex” at the Showtime website.

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