Hung -- TV Review

Life for basketball coach and teacher Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane) is in the crapper. His team can't win a game, his wife (Anne Heche) left him, his twins are annoying adolescents, his neighbor is harassing him, and his home has just burned down. And all of this is happening in Detroit, which, as Drecker puts it, is "the headwaters of a river of failure."

But when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When an HBO show gives you this setup, go for your big guns.

For those living in caves, "Hung" is not the heartwarming adventures of an Asian family. It's a description of Drecker's sole useful asset. So when he meets un-cute with former one-night stand Tanya (Jane Adams as a self-righteous temp whose previous moneymaking idea was to put poems inside bread), they both go stiff with excitement over the concept of pimping him out. Because, you know, he's hung.

That's a lot of setup, and it's easy to be of two minds about it. The basic concept -- that these two entrepreneurs can make a bundle pimping Drecker out because he's a big man down below -- is ludicrous beyond sitcom and scientific standards. Dirk Diggler was a porn star; "Boogie Nights" never indicated that he was the greatest lover in the world.

But try to be more Ray than Tanya on this: The show is pretty darned funny, especially once you get past the 45-minute pilot and into the half-hour regular episodes (smaller is better, actually). The leads are a classic screwball couple, washed out and made hangdog by the system but fighting back in their own uniquely American fashion. Co-creator Dmitry Lipkin ("The Riches") again raises his unique periscope to peer into the darker corners of suburbia, crafting characters worth following even at their most repulsive.

Of course, this can't end well, and one of the pleasures of "Hung" is watching ambitious but not-too-bright people dig their own graves. Let's just say the ride is worth it.

Airdate: 10-10:45 p.m. Sunday, June 28 (HBO)
Cast: Thomas Jane, Jane Adams, Anne Heche, Eddie Jemison, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Charlie Saxton, Rebecca Creskoff, Loren Lester
Executive producers: Colette Burson, Dmitry Lipkin, Alexander Payne, Michael Rosenberg, John Morayniss, Noreen Halpern
Creators-writers: Dmitry Lipkin, Colette Burson
Co-executive producer: Scott Stephens
Produced by George Parra
Director: Alexander Payne
Costume designer: Wendy Chuck
Casting: Lisa Beach, Sarah Katzman
Editor: Kent Trent, A.C.E.
Production designer: Devorah Herber
Director of photography: Uta Briesewitz
Costume designer: Wendy Chuck
Music by: Craig Wedren
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