Back in the early-aughts FX found its initial burst of legitimacy through shows like The Shield, Nip Tuck, and Rescue Me. Since then, show’s like Justified and American Horror Story have come along to further bolster FX’s standing, but with the exception of Louie and possibly Archer, the network has struggled to find a comedy that has netted the same level of critical praise. Which is why it’s fitting that the network would reach out to an old friend to help break that pattern.
Rescue Me co-creator and star Denis Leary has signed a deal to return to FX to film the pilot for a new single camera half-hour comedy series called Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll wherein he will play a spent rocker whose career hasn’t soared since the 90s thanks to his various addictions.
Here’s a more complete synopsis:
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, which has no connection to Eric Bogosian’s play of the same name, is centered on Johnny Rock (Leary) who, as the magnificently talented lead singer of New York’s legendary early 90′s band The Heathens, was on his way to the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. His best friend Flash was being called the next number one lead guitar player on planet earth. The critics loved them. Their live shows were selling out. But Johnny had a problem with booze. And coke. And weed. And pills. And cough medicine. And oh yeah – he slept with Flash’s wife. And his bass player’s fiancée. The band broke up the same day their first and only record was released. 25 years later Johnny is trying to get the band back together. Why? Because as his soon-to-be-ex manager Ira Feinbaum tells him: “Johnny, you’re 50, broke and completely anonymous. In rock ‘n roll you know what that makes you? A bartender.” 25 years later the sex might be harder to find, the drugs might be Luvox and Crestor and Cialis – but rock ‘n roll will never die. It just has a bigger prostate.
It’s hard to deny that this feels like a smooth fit for Leary, a stand-up comic and actor who has always carried himself with a bit of rock star swagger. The plot description also feels a little bit like Rescue Me‘s Tommy Gavin, what with the addiction issues and the rabid carousing, though obviously, the character’s central pain is less significant than Gavin’s case of survivor’s guilt was.
All in all, this might be Leary’s way of playing a fascinatingly and fundamentally damaged character without an ounce of the pathos that often underwrote the audience’s ability to stick with Tommy when he was acting like a monster. An interesting choice and one that could serve the comedy well.
One thing that won’t serve the show, though, is Peter Tolan, at least not as far as we can ascertain from this announcement. Tolan and Leary not only teamed up for Rescue Me, but they were also the architects behind Leary’s last attempt at a half hour comedy, the criminally short-lived ABC cop show, The Job.
Will Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll get a chance to out-last that series and make a real impact for FX? Time will tell, but it seems like, at minimum, this show will give Denis Leary a chance to wear the kind of caustic yet entertaining character that has served him well before, and we are down for that.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for further details on Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.