Rescue Me "Rape" Scene Uproar - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Rescue Me “Rape” Scene Uproar

June 26, 2006 by  

Rescue Me Recap

For those GMMRers who came here this week expecting to see a recap of Tuesday’s Rescue Me, I sincerely apologize. GMMR recapper extraordinaire, Julie, is taking a much needed and well-deserved vacation so she was unable to recap this week’s oh so controversial episode. I had hoped to take over recapping duties myself, but between battling a horrific cold and all the hoopla surrounding Papa GMMR’s retirement parties, I just didn’t have the time. But in hindsight, I wish I had made the time, because last week’s episode was definitely the most talked about show of the week.
So by now you’ve probably heard the buzz about the ending of last week’s show. If you haven’t, and don’t want to be spoiled, you should probably stop reading about….now.

If you’ve ever seen Rescue Me, then you know it is one of the grittiest dramas on television today. It’s raw, and often ugly, but there is a truthfulness to the storylines, and characters that is absent from most other shows in this genre. Scared of crossing a line it is not. Knowing all this about Rescue Me, and loving the show for it, I was still rocked by the final scenes of this past week’s episode. What transpired has had message boards in a tizzy ever since. It went something like this….

Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) had been at his breaking point since learning that his ex-wife, Janet, had been secretly seeing his brother behind his back. Hardly able to speak to her on the phone, Tommy is less than thrilled when Janet calls to say that since they can’t afford a lawyer, they should figure out the terms of their divorce together. Tommy reluctantly goes to Janet’s house. She is negotiating with him on the ownership of the dining room table and chaisse lounges when all of a sudden Tommy flies into an angry rage, throws Janet down on the couch, rips her shirt off, lifts her skirt up, and basically rapes her. However, the way the scene unfolded on screen, it was almost as Janet enjoyed Tommy forcing himself on her. Although Janet never said the words “No” or “stop”, she did physically try to get Tommy off of her when he first attacked her. But moments later she gave in, and seemed to be ok with what was going on. When he was done, Tommy stood up, apologized for ripping her shirt, and left Janet’s house with a smirk on his face – apparently quite pleased with himself. We then see Tommy’s brother (and Janet’s current boyfriend) walk into the house to find Janet, sitting on the couch, flipping through a magazine rather nonchalantly. She managed to quickly change out of her ripped, blood stained shirt before he got there.

I personally found the scene incredibly disturbing to watch. Tommy Gavin is a flawed man – this I know, but raping his ex-wife really brought Tommy to a whole new despicable level, at least in my eyes. And Janet’s reaction was perhaps even more stomach turning. It was almost as if she accepted what happened, like it was just Tommy being Tommy. I was bothered and bewildered by his AND her behavior.

After the show aired, TV message boards all over the internet blew up with chatter about what went down. Many viewers were outraged at what they had just seen. In an interesting turn of events, co-creator Peter Tolan jumped in on the message board chatter (via TWoP) to explain the original intent of the scene. He wrote:

“I’ll admit this is extremely dicey stuff. The idea of any woman ‘enjoying’ being raped is repellent, and caused all of us (and the network) a great deal of concern. But again, these are seriously damaged people who are unable to express their emotions — and so expression through brutality has become expected.”

Tolan has admitted to regretting his decision to get personally involved with the fans online, saying that the online discussions have been “combative”. When asked if he would go back to the message boards soon, Tolan said: “I think I will go back to say I won’t be back.”

The controversy over whether or not Tommy raped Janet is still going strong. Alan Sepinwall, of the NJ Star Ledger and one of my favorite blogs, “What’s Alan Watching” had the opportunity to speak with Tolan and Denis Leary after the episode aired. Leary contends that Tommy didn’t rape Janet. Um, ok. But I’m not sure all the people behind the scenes at Rescue Me are on the same page. Tolan noted in his message board posts that what went down probably did constitute a rape. If the guy that wrote the scene, and the guy that acted it out can’t seem to agree, then maybe the true intent wasn’t known. And for a show as good as Rescue Me, that too is a bit disturbing.

For more on this week’s Rescue Me controversy, check out these links:

  • Denis Leary & Peter Tolan’s take on the “rape” scene (What’s Alan Watching?)
  • Co-creator, Peter Tolan’s posts of TWoP boards (TWoP Profile) On the right click on “Profile options” and then “Find member’s posts”

And as always, you can share your thoughts about this topic in the Rescue Me section of the Give Me My Remote forums.

Filed under Rescue Me


4 Responses to “Rescue Me “Rape” Scene Uproar”

  1. Julie on June 27th, 2006 1:46 am

    How fitting, GMMR. I wrote a post about this very subject, then later tonight went over to check out your site. Lo and behold, I get to read your reactions. It’s probably better I didn’t recap the episode myself; I’m keen to avoid being part of the controversy. Still, the mixed thoughts and reactions are interesting to see.

    I suppose I think that the way they intended it to come off and they way viewers interpreted it were two very different things. Had it been played as they’d meant, maybe I’d be okay with it. As it aired…I’m not so sure.

  2. michael on June 27th, 2006 1:24 pm

    I have never watched the show but I always find it odd when viewers get upset about a couple going thru a rape and then seeming to be fine with it. I know I wouldn’t. By the way, didn’t this almost same thing happen on General Hospital at one point? I think Luke raped Laura and then they ended up married.

  3. Janie Jones on July 18th, 2009 3:37 pm

    ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!!! You OBVIOUSLY DO NOT WATCH THE SHOW on a regular basis!!!! Please spare me or anyone else the “oh, poor Janet, she was raped!”! What a bunch of crap. They are still married in this and Tommy has alot of erratic emotions; anyone who watches Rescue Me KNOWS THIS!!!
    Your commentary made me ill. Are you just LOOKING for something to gripe at and complain about???!!!!
    You’re a complete idiot in my book

  4. Gizzybiscuits on October 22nd, 2011 7:56 pm

    “Please spare me or anyone else the “oh, poor Janet, she was raped!”! What a bunch of crap. They are still married in this and Tommy has alot of erratic emotions; anyone who watches Rescue Me KNOWS THIS!!!”

    …What is your point, exactly? Marriage =/= always consenting to the person always. At no point did she give consent.

    And…What the fuck does ‘oh but x has erratic emotions!’ got to do with anything? How does someone being an abusive fuck mean the other person totally consented?

    Maybe you think you’re a funny troll but its spouting bullshit like this that keeps rape culture going.