I’ve been watching Rescue Me on DVD over the past few weeks, and thanks to the lovely people at FX publicity, I’m now caught up on season 5. And it’s a pretty great show, if we don’t talk about season 4. I enjoy the camaraderie of the firehouse, the ensemble cast does great work, the action scenes are incredible and heartbreaking, and yeah, Denis Leary is a moderately good actor who created a damn good show. And Daniel Sunjata is phenomenally good looking. Also Steven Pasquale. Damn. And John Scurti is just a funny, wonderful actor.
There’s just one thing. This one person. Who is DRIVING ME INSANE.
The rest of this will give away a lot of plot, FYI. In case you were thinking of catching up, which I recommend. But seriously, skip season 4.
Sheila Keefe is the widow of Tommy’s cousin, Jimmy, who died on Sept. 11. In season 1, Tommy and Sheila had an affair and she got pregnant. In season 2, she had a miscarriage and started dating women, one of whom beat the ever-living shit out of her. That was unpleasant. In season 3, she bought a beach house on Long Island where she was convinced she and Tommy would retire and live happily ever after. When Tommy told her he wasn’t running away with her, she drugged him and burned the house down, nearly killing them both and kicking off a horrible insurance fraud storyline in season 4. Also in season 4 she tried to get Tommy to give her the baby that (stay with me here) Tommy’s wife, Janet, had with his brother Johnny. (But the baby might be Tommy’s. Janet was sleeping with both brothers.) Then she named the baby Elvis. Now, in season 5, her son, Damian, has become a probie (rookie) firefighter in the same house where Tommy works.
And throughout all these delightful developments, Sheila has been a screaming, crying, drinking, cursing, lying, cheating, miserable harpy. All of which I could handle if she was entertaining. She’s not. She’s just loud and mean and repetitive. She’s been screaming the same five things at Tommy the entire show, and now she’s transferred all of her neurosis onto screaming because her only son is a firefighter, the occupation that (let’s not forget) killed her husband. While I can understand where she’s coming from with all of this, I’m not enjoying it. She’s just a manic pain in the ass and every scene she’s in makes me want to scratch my eyes out with broken glass.
When she’s not screaming for justifiable reasons, she’s screaming for unjustifiable ones. In the course of the show, she has twice drugged Tommy with roofies and Viagra and proceeded to rape him, then told him the next morning that he got drunk and blacked out. He’s an alcoholic, and was sober at the time, so it’s really a dick move. And then there was the part where she convinced Tommy to give her Janet’s baby. I’m more inclined to chalk that up to desperate writers and a lousy plot twist, but it’s easier to blame it on Sheila being horrible.
In the extra features on one of the DVDs, Peter Tolan, who created the show with Leary, slyly said that, well, it is a show about people with really dangerous jobs, so the cast had better stay in line or someone might be getting burned up. I wish they would set Sheila on fire and then never talk about her again. And Damian too. God, he’s fucking annoying.