Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) is a fixer. He’s the guy a celeb calls when they are getting stalked, wake up with a dead one-night-stand in their bed, or have a transgendered hooker attempting to blackmail them. The most powerful athletes, actors, musicians, and lawyers of Los Angeles depend on Ray.
While Ray’s got his work life handled, his personal life is another story. He is the patriarch of a family of Boston transplants living in Hollywood. Ray’s disgruntled wife, Abby (Paula Malcomson), wants to move to a nicer neighborhood, so their two teenagers’ can attend better schools.
His brother, Terry (Eddie Marsan), is a former boxer now suffering from Parkinson’s. Ray's other brother, Bunchy (Dash Mihok), is a broken man who has never recovered from being molested as a child by a priest. Meanwhile, the suicide of their teenage sister, Bernadette, years previously still hangs over their heads. Also, there’s the secret biracial half-brother, Daryll (Pooch Hall), he just found out about. Daryll is an aspiring boxer/rapper.
Still, Ray made juggling business and home somehow work. However, when his former mob-affiliated father, Mickey (Jon Voight), unexpectedly gets out of prison five years early on a 25-year sentence, Ray starts unraveling.
A self-proclaimed “terrible father,” Ray blames his dad for everything bad that’s happened to his family, and he’ll do anything to keep him away from them. This conflicts with Mickey’s agenda, which he claims is to start anew with his family.
Truthfully, what Mickey really wants is revenge on the people who sent him to prison for 20 years on a frame job: Ray and his associates.
Described by Showtime as a “powerful family drama” in press materials, Ray Donovan is a very engaging show. A dark protagonist willing to do whatever it takes for work, while being genuinely concerned for his family’s well-being, definitely has shades of The Sopranos.
It’s impossible to hate the capable fixer for his ruthless violence, when he’s so caring about the members of his family. Ray might be just as similar to or as guilty as his father, but it’s Mickey you’re going to root for to fall.
Schreiber brings a lot of sympathy to the role. Ray shows compassion not only for his brothers, but the random starlet or down-on-her luck blackmailer. He’ll help people as best as he can, unless they’re an abuser. Greatly affected by the abuse his brother suffered (and maybe, too, himself), he pays keen attention to the children he encounters, lest they become the targets of sexual predators.
There is both dark drama and dark humor. The affects of sexual assault on boys or men is a subject rarely depicted in media, in general. In Ray Donovan, it is a critical plot thread, touched on in the first four episodes. Undoubtedly, the theme will play a large role in the season overall.
The on-going symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, is also a topic that doesn’t gets a lot of attention. A recurring subplot touches on this, as well as the treatment, and how it affects the patient.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood portion of the show offers a lot of amusing hijinxs. Whether it be ditzy actors, or agents having meltdowns at the thought of scandal, the show is amusing. Plus, there’s some great lines. For instance, one uttered by Abby when describing the quality of her neighborhood, “It’s like the friggin’ Jersey Shore of L.A.!”
No wonder she wants to move to Bel Air.
In a nutshell:Ray Donovan is basically Sopranos meets Entourage, and it’s definitely worth checking out.
Ray Donovan premieres Sunday, June 30 at 10 p.m. EST on Showtime.
Photo Credit: Showtime