Necessary Roughness reviewed: A fine summer show combining therapy, pro football, and Long Island.

What you're watching.
June 29 2011 11:26 PM

Necessary Roughness

A fine summer show combining therapy, pro football, and Long Island.

Hannah Marks as Lindsay Santino, Callie Thorne as Danielle Santino. Click image to expand.
Necessary Roughness

The USA Network continues its successful run of producing featherweight hourlong entertainments—more a gambol than a run, really—with Necessary Roughness (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET). Light as foamed skim milk and tasty as almond syrup, such series as Burn Notice, Royal Pains, and Suits amount to nimble operettas and pass handsomely for summer refreshment. In the tradition of those shows, the characters here are sets of quirks coating round-ish personalities. As if combining Analyze This, Any Given Sunday, and any random dramedy about a professional-class working mother, Necessary Roughness centers on the relationship between a blingy pro-football player and his brassy therapist. Your heroine is Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne, who played Elena McNulty on The Wire and Sheila Keefe on Rescue Me). Dani is a Long Island mental-hygiene professional specializing in hypnotherapy. She is quick and tough, with a blue-collar kind of bluntness and a Williams-Sonoma sort of kitchen. Her middle-aged suburban hotness, slightly redolent of late-'90s Jeanine Pirro, bespeaks well-earned self-pampering at the Roosevelt Field Mall. Dani is the only person in her household who is not gravely oversexed. Her daughter, tarting herself up for mornings at school and afternoons of truancy, dresses as provocatively as a prostitute, in Dani's words. (Specifically, she tells the girl, in one of many nicely honed wisecracks, that she can wear an offending crop top out of the house "when you are making a living as a hooker.") Meanwhile, Dani's son is a dirty dog juggling many girlfriends—but not quite as many as Dani's husband, it turns out. Redressing this imbalance while divorce proceedings are still at the exciting early stage of process service and spluttering acrimony, Dani hooks up with a guy she meets in a bar. The morning after, it turns out that a she's got both a love interest and a central conflict. Dani's new friend is the trainer for a pro-football franchise whose all-star wide receiver has lost the ability to hold onto a football. Should this be called reception block? Catch fright? His character is named Terrence King and nicknamed TK, to the amused annoyance of editors of articles about this show. The actor in the role is Mehcad Brooks, who, despite appearances on True Blood and Desperate Housewives, is perhaps most famous for playing a shirtless hot guy in a commercial for an insurance company. His abs perform solidly here, as does the rest of him, as he brings this neurotic jock to life. The loud jewelry, the nightclub fistfights, the tantrums of swagger, the foolish grinning charm, the joyless groupie-doing—TK presents many of your favorite quirks of your least favorite NFL players and vice versa. After agreeing to treat TK, Dr. Dani swiftly identifies relevant mommy issues, and Necessary Roughness thereby announces its twist to the special charge in the cross-gender therapist-patient relationship. But TK is not trying to hear that, and he goes AWOL, rematerializes in the champagne room of a multi-level strip club. A field trip is made, tough love administered, the big game won. The daughter supports the mother; the mother supports the new surrogate son. A fine summer show is launched, slick but with feeling, and all the orange-and-red football-season foliage on-screen contributes to a diverting brisk breeziness.

Troy Patterson is Slate's writer at large and writes the Gentleman Scholar column.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.