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Thursday, June 29, 2006

"Rescue Me" rape scene explained

by Jennifer Squires Biller

In a controversy that could rival the behind-the-scenes chaos at The View, a recent scene on Rescue Me has fans and television columnists everywhere in an uproar.

I first posted about the disturbing rape/sex scene last week and asked viewers or the show writers to explain. Thanks to all of you who took time to e-mail me with your opinions and viewpoints. A special shout-out to my friend and fellow Rescue Me junkie, Bob, who gave me his brilliant plot analysis.

Rescue Me writer/producer Peter Tolan ventured to the Television Without Pity forum to take on fans that were brutally criticizing the scene and the show. Here’s an excerpt of Tolan’s comments at TWOP explaining the scene:

“We tried to be extremely careful about that scene. I did not direct the episode, but I did my most careful writing in preparing the scene. Our feeling has always been that Tommy and Janet are in a highly dysfunctional relationship (obviously), a negative vortex fueled by only one positive - a faint glimmer of love that is constantly overshadowed by truly fantastic physical attraction. In terms of the scene last night, I never wrote the words 'don't' or 'no' at any point in the scene, and when I talked to Andrea about the playing of the thing, I pretty much told her that she had to stand up to Tommy - that he had taken so much away from her over the years, that she had to stare him down from a position of strength while he was forcing himself on her. I told her to shame him with the words she was given - to let him know she couldn't hurt her anymore, no matter what he did. Did this come across? For many viewers, obviously not. I was not on set the day the scene was shot (I live in California and am only in NYC when I direct episodes), so maybe those ideas weren't followed through as well as they could have been. I'll admit this is extremely dicey stuff. The idea of any woman 'enjoying' being raped is repellant, 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 talked at length with posters on the message board about the scene and at one point offered to mail a dead horse to those who were still ranting, so they could beat it. Funny guy.

OK, so there it is, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. For more on the rape controversy, check out Alan Sepinwall’s column in The New Jersey Star-Ledger and his blog.


Bob said...

Hey I got my very first "Shout Out"! And it didn't even hurt....

tube talk girl said...

Careful Bob, the next one could leave a scar...Tube Talk Girl can be viscous with her rhetoric.

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