“Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.” The good news is that real friends are available when you need them… for a price. Ray Donovan is one of these real friends who fixes any mess you can imagine getting yourself into — as long as you have the cash and cache to know about his law firm. And now that you know about Ray, here’s what you need to know to binge season one.
What’s the premise? Professional “fixer” Ray Donovan helps L.A.’s rich and famous with their problems, while barely coping with his own.
What’s it like? Think Michael Clayton meets The Player, with a dash of Parenthood. In Ray Donovan‘s Los Angeles, people have phone conversations and don’t say goodbye. No one works behind a desk — everyone is either getting high at the Chateau Marmont in the middle of the day, handcuffing themselves to towel racks, or waking up next to dead one-night-stands and then calling Ray to clean it up (without saying goodbye when they hang up). These problems often have violent solutions, but there are no big explosions or huge blood spurts — it’s all relatively grounded. As unusual as his job is, Ray’s challenges at home are all too familiar. His wife hates her suburban life, his kids love to test their boundaries, and Ray’s father is released from prison on the condition that he take down Ray and all of his associates for the FBI. Okay, maybe it’s not that familiar. Also, you might find it puzzling how no one ever gets a chance to eat. They’re always drinking whiskey or setting something on fire, but never eating a sandwich.
How long will it take? With twelve hour-long episodes in season one, you can do the whole thing in one day (making it one less day you’re getting in trouble and having to call Ray for help).
What do the critics think? Critical response to Ray Donovan is generally positive with season one at 76 percent Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer. Critics praise the ease of the series; Al Alexander of The Patriot Ledger wrote that “Schreiber looks as comfortable busting heads (with a baseball bat) in the body of a Hollywood ‘fixer’ as he does coddling his spoiled, social climbing wife and kids.” This show leans particularly heavily on its supporting cast as well: Linda Stasi of the New York Post said that “Everyone is great, but Jon Voight? Brilliant.” And Brian Tallerico of HollywoodChicago.com noted that, while Voight is sure to get the lion’s share of critical acclaim, “Schreiber, Marsan, Dorsey, Malcomson — they’re all fantastic.”
Why should I watch this? The real magic of Ray Donovan is how the show’s pulpy drama is brought to life by believable performances — especially by Liev Schrieber, Jon Voight, Dash Mihok, and Eddie Marsan. You will feel simultaneously jealous of how the characters carelessly exchange bags of money, and relieved that you don’t need to blackmail someone in order to maintain your current lifestyle. Yet somehow, outside of Ray’s flashy job, the show is easy to connect with because the characters deal with the relatable problems of alcoholism, abandonment issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, and adolescence.
What’s my next step? If you feel the need for more education on the world of “fixers,” and you like watching TV actors drink wine and wear comfy sweaters, check out Scandal, which plays up the soapy aspects of working in close proximity to the White House. For two hours of Fixing in Classy Suits Involving Ecological Threats, check out George Clooney’s Michael Clayton. For a lighter look at the movers and shakers of Tinseltown, give HBO’s Entourage a tumble. But if the South-Boston-comes-to-Los-Angeles feel is more your speed, then Ray Donovan‘s second season premieres on Showtime on July 13.
Caught up on season one? Watch the season premiere of season two here! [Contains adult content; viewer discretion advised.]
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