Masters of Sex fans who felt the Season 3 storyline involving Virginia’s unplanned pregnancy was shoehorned into the series, take heart: You’re not going crazy.
Exec producers Michelle Ashford and Sarah Timberman admitted Tuesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour that the baby plot — a wild diversion from the real-life story of Masters and Johnson — was added, at least in part, due to legal pressure.
“We are telling a non-fiction story and one where there are people who are still alive out there, and those people need to be protected,” Ashford told reporters. “That is way of protecting them.
“We were advised to add [the baby] to protect the people that are still alive,” Ashford elaborated. “It wasn’t a storytelling prerogative. It had to do with protecting living people.”
A title card at the end of every episode informs viewers, “This program is about the important achievements of Masters and Johnson. The children Tessa, Henry, Johnny and Jenny are entirely fictitious.”
Timberman later confirmed that the decision to age Bill and Virginia’s children in Season 3 — and give them real, yet fictionalized, adult problems — spurred the arrival of little Lisa. (Bottom line: Adding a fictionalized baby to the mix drives home the point that the current Tessa storyline was not inspired by Virginia’s real — and only — daughter.)
Speaking of the pair’s now-adult children, Ashford defended the early (and polarizing) Season 3 episodes that placed so much emphasis on the kids. “Part of the legacy of Masters and Johnson… it affected their families,” she explained. “At some point, we were going to delve into that territory. It isn’t the focus of our season, as you’ll see as the season goes on. We did need to age the children appropriately and say, ‘This is part of what happened in this complicated dynamic.'”