Spring 2014 Review: Rake

29 Jan

Greg "Rake" Kinnear

First things first. Rake is not named Rake. Well, there is no Rake. The main character, Greg Kinnear’s Keegan Deane is not even nicknamed Rake, nor is it his middle name. This, first and foremost doomed the show in my eyes, but I tried my best to give it a fair shake from then on.

Keegan Deane is a talented lawyer who doesn’t have his life together. He’s also a charismatic cad. The most critical of his faults, which appear to be many, is gambling. His gambling problems have put him in debt to a very serious man, an employee of whom threatens to hurt Rake (I’m calling him that from now on; it’ll be easier on everyone even if not technically true) if he doesn’t pay up and fast. Right after that conversation, Rake hooks up with an attractive woman and brings her back with him to some sort of outdoor club with drinks, and then leaves her to herself after he gets hooked in a card game. He then brings her back to his best buddy’s place, who has a family and kids. Rake is staying there because he’s broke and homeless at the moment. Although this buddy goes back a ways with Rake, he’s getting tired of having Rake live with him, passing out all over the house and bringing back women. The woman Rake brings back, mind you, still wants to continue seeing Rake, and tries to relay her phone number after she’s being kicked out and told to jump the fence, because Rake and friend need to get her out before friend’s wife sees her. Rake’s more of a one-night stand kind of guy though.

I’m not going to break down the whole episode in that level of detail, or I’d just be rewriting the script of Rake, but you probably get the idea. His talent and charisma endears him to others while his attitude and vices drive people away. Seen this on TV anywhere lately? (Everywhere is the answer, but particularly I’ve been calling Rake lawyer House for weeks before it appeared, and though there are certainly noteworthy differences in the details, it’s more or less spot on).

Rake, the character, and in some ways the show is like a middle school boy who thinks the way to get someone to like him is to be mean and make you not like him first before winning you over. Rake’s a jerk, yes, that’s pretty much the premise, but well, he really cares deep down and he’s a good lawyer, so we should care about him anyway and cut him a wide swath to do kind of lousy things to his friends and associates.

There are some shows that seem to authentically not care whether or not you like the main character or characters, and that’s something else entirely, but it’s not Rake. Rake desperately wants us to like him; to grow frustrated with him, but ultimately to come around to his side. There’s hope for Rake yet. Optimally, even more than like him, you’re supposed to want to go out on this adventure with him, and while there are certainly characters who make up for their negative qualities with wit and charm, the balance is off here.

The point of all this, which I haven’t said outright but which you might guess is just well, I don’t care. I find it hard to care about Rake, and hard to root for him. He’s kind of a jerk. I’ve always had a problem with jerk main characters, but sometimes they’re redeeming and sometimes it’s okay that they’re jerks; Don Draper is a huge asshole, but that’s okay; the show doesn’t try to pretend otherwise.

Other than that, well, there’s not a lot to say. And that’s really also the story. Rake isn’t bad as so much as it’s mediocre; it’s a story and characters you’ve seen before. I thought House got tired, but House was better. There’s no element of Rake that puts it above average or makes it worth cutting out time in your busy schedule to watch. Some shows you just can’t read after one episode; they could be disasters but there’s a small chance of brilliance. Here, well, for better or worse you know exactly what you’re getting just about right from the first scene.

Will I watch it again? I think I’ve had my fill of Rake; I knew it ever since he wasn’t named Rake. It’s not awful, but it’s more of a same that’s been a little rammed into the ground of late, and there’s nothing about it to make it stand above the fray.


One Response to “Spring 2014 Review: Rake”

  1. Tyler March 18, 2014 at 11:34 pm #

    In the middle of the tnbeulruce surrounding youThese trying times that are so hard to endureIn the middle of what seems to be your darkest hourHold fast your heart and be assuredThis too shall pass, like every night that’s come before itHe’ll never give you more than you can bearThis too shall pass, so in this thought you be comfortedFor it’s in His hands, this too shall pass, oh yesThe Father knows the tears you cry before they fallHe feels your pain, His heart and yours are oneThe Father knows that sorrow’s heavy chains are strongBut with His strength, you’ll overcomeFor this too shall pass, like every night that’s come before itHe’ll never give you more than you can bearThis too shall pass, so in this thought you be comfortedFor it’s in His hands, this too shall passSo set your eyes, set them on the mountainAnd lift your hands up to the skyAnd let His arms of love surround youLet Him take you to the other sideThis too shall pass, like every night that’s come and gone before itI’m so glad, He never gives [Incomprehensible] more than you can bearThis too shall pass, so in this thought you be comfortedFor it’s in his hands, this too shall passIt’s in His hands, this too shall passOh, it shall pass

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