Who are you, reader? Honestly, please get in touch. What do you like about the FX comedy Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll? Have you come to this review having Googled your favorite show — because you needed more than you got from its mere 22 minutes? Were you in search of something by way of explanation — a little bit of a backstory?
Well, you won’t find that here. I, your humble recapper, am just as befuddled as you. I am just one valiant person still writing about every distinct episode of this show on the internet, and at this point (one more to go!) there are not many of us left. My project here is like that of the feeblest pre-nomination presidential campaigns, Don Quixote running toward a windmill with his spear, or my auto drafted fantasy football league — we hang on for dear life, though literally no odds are in our favor. Whether you exist or not, recap reader — as Elton John once sang, this one’s for you.
Two weeks ago, the Assassins — the band around which this show is centered — prostrated themselves to play Johnny’s (Denis Leary) sociopathic mother’s wedding. Last week, Gigi fell in with a “normcore” crowd, and bass player “Rehab” and drummer Bam Bam formed a “beastcore” project in response. This week, the capital-R, that-Black-Crowes-record-cover-with-the-pubic-hair rock’n’roll to which the main characters are supposedly devoted is compromised again, when Gigi gets an offer from Sony to become a major pop star.
Of course, this is provided the other members of the band step aside (bass player too old! drummer fatty!), except Johnny and Flash, the guitarist and Gigi’s flame, who will be kept on as songwriters. Also, they require that Johnny has to get lipo’d and Botoxed to look like a non-gargoyle (IRL, impossible for Leary, as his withered soul has irreparably twisted his physicality forever) for PR purposes. Understandably, they are getting paid a bunch of money and fancy Cognac for this. Johnny looks good again — Ava starts being attracted to him again (Flash: “You still happy with the deal?” Johnny: “My dick certainly is!”)
Enter Amour, a white-devil pop producer who says “on fleek” three times in one scene. He’s supposed to make Gigi sound hip, since he’s produced hit songs for J. Lo and Gaga (again, a lightly retouched script from 2008… must be). Amour produces a song for Gigi that sounds something like a toy-keyboard-preset version of The Chemical Brothers, as if this was the music director’s vision of what pop music of the last 15 years sounds like, having never heard any of it. Gigi has to dress like a “whore” and make a music video that looks like no music videos look. Eventually, when she learns that she has to lip sync, she, Johnny, and Ava storm out; goodbye, Fatcat Record Industry! Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll!
That’s pretty much all there is to this one. Insofar as there is a plot to this show, the only development is that it ends with Gigi having fallen out with the illogically douchebaggy-at-all-times Flash, who thought the “Gaga” vibe was “dope,” “dog.” Rehab and Bam Bam have a stint as “beastcore” DJs in Daft Punk outfits; models get into their jams, and Bam Bam makes a joke about adding them to his “spankbank.”
It occurred to me that if we went back in time and eliminated Seinfeld, that Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll would never have existed. We would lose one of the great cultural institutions of the second half of last century, but we would not have begun the endless string of increasingly inferior sitcoms about a bunch of people being insane assholes to each other that led us here. It’s shit like that “spankbank” joke which makes this show a demoralizing and possibly destructive influence: evidence of the light PCP of Sandlerian jokes that laces the normal, passé schwag of this show. S&D&R&R makes your skin feel creepy and crawly, like the psycho-somatic thing that happens to New Yorkers at night when they are worried they have bedbugs. In some macro, theoretical way, it is unassuming and even lighthearted, but it just keeps picking away at you, “dope” by “dope.”