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''Rescue Me''

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 19, 2006

Once again, I've been a techno-idiot. Wrote this yesterday ago but neglected to post it on the blog. So here it is. The ''tonight'' references refer to Tuesday, when I wrote this.


(Note: Some content may be unsuitable for younger readers.)


I have tried to put ''Rescue Me'' behind me. I tried to shrug off Denis Leary's comments to TV Guide, suggesting that those of us worried about the rape episode either hadn't watched the show or were just being politically correct. I even talked about the show recently with a New York City firefighter -- who is a 9/11 survivor -- and tried to take in his relaxed view of the show generally. (He thought it was unrealistic, but that such treatment w as hardly unique to firefighters. Police officers, he noted, have been portrayed unrealistically on TV for years.)


But when I sat down to watch a preview copy of tonight's ''Rescue Me,'' the smoke was coming out of my ears -- so much that no firefighter could have stopped it. Leary's egomania hits new highs in the episode, and its distaste for women is even more noticeable.


The issue is, simply put, foreplay. Not one but two different women in the episode are supposedly so enamored of Tommy Gavin and his, um, endowment, that they have their way with him in a briskly mechanical manner that appears to involve no warmup at all -- minimal activity before coitus, and a lot of clothing kept on during the act.


You might concede that some of the covering up is intended to meet FX's content standards, but the show has pushed those limits beyond what we see here. Instead, there's an incredible self-congratulation on display, an insistence to the viewers that women find Gavin's endowment not only irresistible but all they require for sexual satisfaction. And that fits all too sadly with the rape episode, where Gavin's prowess was supposedly so great that it overwhelmed any objections his ex-wife had at first when Tommy assaulted her.


Of course, there were other plot strands in the episode. And I admit that I have been watching the show differently than I did before the rape episode. But that's what television can and does do -- change how we think about characters or a series in a moment in a single telecast. And ever since that rape -- I'm not falling for Leary's claims that it was something else -- ''Rescue Me'' has felt very, very wrong.

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