$120,000 worth of feminist theory, down the drain…

Ed. note: please welcome new blogger Sexy Bacon!

Maybe it’s because I minored in Women’s Studies instead of committing to the full blown major. Maybe it’s because I didn’t read Judith Butler to the point that I ever really understood her. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t breastfed. The road to hell is paved with maybes (I know, I know, it’s good intentions, but that doesn’t really work with what I’m saying). Anyway, my road to hell is paved with a genuine love for Rescue Me -- misogyny, gender stereotypes, and all.

So I’m a bit of a crammer when it comes to TV on DVD. As in, six seasons of Alias? No problem, just give me a month! And a measly three seasons of Rescue Me? Pshaw, I’ll get back to you in two weeks!

Well, my friends, that two weeks is up, so let’s just cut to the chase here—who on God’s green earth would have thunk that my reaction to a fairly violent rape scene could be, “yeah, but you could tell she was kind of into it.”

Thus sums up my utter confusion: why exactly do I adore these completely messed-up, misogynistic, beefsteak specimens of all our society deems masculine? To be fair, they are all fairly complex characters in their own right, dealing with heavy shit—911 losses, family expectations, addiction of all sorts, divorce, death, not to mention risking life and limb on a daily basis. And they’re freakin’ hilarious. But across the board, their interactions/relationships with women are completely messed up and stereotypically gendered—from Franco, who goes out every night to get laid (“go at it like an oil rig,” as he puts it); to Lou, who is taken for all he’s worth by a conniving prostitute; to Sean, who falls for the meanest woman alive; to Tommy who, well, rapes his ex-wife, among other things.

And the ladies, the ladies, the ladies—don’t get me started. They’re no better—manipulative, demanding, at times shrewish, oftentimes whoreish, in very predictable ways. When you look at these characters’ actions, across the board, they fall into every tired old gender stereotype in the book.

So what, dear reader, is so appealing? We might just have to write it off to that certain je ne sais pas. Could be the acting—something about the way the actor who plays Sheila (Callie Thorne) still manages to make her so incredibly touching and endearing, even when she drugs Tommy (who is in recovery) in order to talk at him for hours, rape him, and destroy his house. Could be the writing—dealing with topics that explore the darkest sides of human nature while still managing to draw laughs.

Whatever it is, Rescue Me is not amazing in spite of its take on gender—it’s amazing because of it. Developing characters, stories, and dialogue that feed into and showcase all of these gender roles and interactions in very real ways, then exploring them not overtly but in ways so subtle that it’s difficult to even identify where it happens—brilliant.

And I don’t care what you say, that rape scene was kinda hot.

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