On the surface, I don’t think Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll would appeal much to me. But then, when have I limited my TV viewing to things that appeal to me?
The show is ostensibly about trying to keep the washed-up drug addict former lead singer of a band called The Heathens (Denis Leary) off drugs long enough to write a few new songs. It turns out he has a daughter he never knew about, and she turns up with money and the intention of putting the band back together – with her as the lead singer. Leary created the show, and more than anything, it showcases his fast-paced, smart-ass, sharp humor better than anything I’ve seen him do lately.
Leary as Johnny Rock: “Bowie had this haircut in 1973, this is an iconic look.”
John Corbett, as Flash, one of Johnny Rock’s old bandmates: “Bowie’s been drug-free since 78.”
Johnny: “Talent-free, too, bro. Let’s dance… let’s not, David….”
Johnny: “Name one great band or rock star that doesn’t get high.”
Rehab, former bandmate: “Coldplay.*”
Johnny’s daughter, Gigi: “Morrissey.”
Bam Bam, another former bandmate: “Radiohead.”
Johnny: “I rest my case. Every time I hear a Radiohead song, I feel like I’m failing the SATs all over again.”
This coupled with a few zingers about Pat Benatar and her husband, Mr. Pat Benatar had me chuckling through the first two episodes. Sadly that’s all that’s been broadcast so far.
Of note, the band manager, Ira, is the actor Josh Pais… who is one of those unafraid to be non-descript guys who shows up everywhere. He is the quietest, pent up and most unassuming dentist in the indie film Touchy Feely but then is this angry, volatile, perv, Stu Feldman, in Ray Donovan. I love actors who blend in but deliver wildly and widely varied performances, and Pais is great at this even if he is upstaged here by Denis Leary and John Corbett. He may always be upstaged because he blends in well and does exactly what his character is there to do.
Overall, it may be that you have to have a soft spot for Denis Leary to like this in the first place, but I suppose I qualify even if I have no fondness for the kind of selfish, ne’er-do-well character he represents.
*I would argue that Coldplay is NOT a great band, whatever their reach and popularity. Agree there with Leary’s resting the case.