Let’s talk about that, and about the sympathies the viewers may or may not have towards Bill. Virginia was alive when Maier wrote the book and Bill was not, so there are some people that say this is her version of things and the book and the show are more sympathetic to her than to him. How do you feel about that?
 
Michelle Ashford:   I remember somebody first saying, “Oh, that’s such a cliché: the icy doctor, physician heal thyself kind of story.” And I thought, “Fair enough — except for it’s true in our case.” I don’t think that this is at all a stretch in terms of how we’re portraying their personalities. It’s funny with Masters, because the only film that we have now of him is later in his career. And one of the fascinating things to watch if our series has a long life is how he changed remarkably over the 30 years that he spent with Virginia Johnson. And so I do believe the real man was like this. But there’s tons of evidence in that book to support that. And the reason she was so essential was that he just was not good at social interaction. He was, I think, a cold fish. He was a strange man. He was really demanding. He was imperious. He was all those things so I feel like, okay, it does seem like it’s tilted her direction but that’s just because on the surface she’s a much warmer, more engaging person, as she was in real life, which is the reason she was so essential to his work. So when people say, “Oh, he’s such an asshole,” I say, “Just hang on a second. It’s not always gonna be like this with him,” because one of the most interesting things about Bill Masters is this weird transformation that occurred in the course of his life. And it’s true when you go out and look at this YouTube stuff and whatnot of him, later in his life he’s really trying to be jocular and, in his own weird way, charming. And he had changed. He changed a lot. And why he changed is something that’s really worth examining and what it was about and we intend to explore it.
 
You chose to end the season on this moment: Bill has come to her out of the rain to admit to his feelings about her. On some level that’s a very familiar sort of romantic comedy construct, even though we don’t actually see him doing the running through the raindrops. Why did you chose to go into that place here with that relationship?
 
Michelle Ashford:   Well, I think that speaks a little bit to what you were talking about earlier.   And those are conversations that I have with my producing partner with the writers, and with Michael Sheen: How do we access this character so the people can understand what’s going on? We have a very internal locked-down man.  How do you start to understand what’s happening with him? And Michael Sheen and I have talked many times about the fact he’s like those Russian nesting dolls. And what the series in success would reveal is taking him and breaking down one of these dolls at a time, one layer after another, until you start to understand what’s actually going on at the center of this man. And so we have a few times in the series where you realize there’s an enormous struggle going on in there. Here’s a very buttoned down man with a suit of armor on and there’s something churning underneath it. And we saw it a couple of times when his wife miscarried and we start to see flickers of it with Virginia Johnson. The reason it goes that direction by the end is he’s lost everything. He’s lost every kind of support that he thought he needed to be the man he thinks he needed to be. And while he’s stripped of all that and the whole thing is in ruin, he all of a sudden can have an honest emotion and finally just say it. Because there’s nothing to lose at this point. It’s all just a disaster. So it allows him to actually break through a little bit and say the thing that he’s been thinking all along. Now, of course, as with any transformation of real people it’s a one step forward, two steps back kind of thing. What happened is Virginia Johnson really unlocked something in Bill Masters. Something really essential in him. And what the man is doing is struggling with whether he actually wants to look at that man that she is pulling out. Even though it does have a sort of rom familiarity, I think it’s a much more essential kind of character moment for, “Oh my God, something is happening to me and now I’m just gonna say it. I’m gonna say something honest. I mean to say how I actually feel and that’s really what it’s about.”