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TV Series Review

It's pretty evident that Americans are still enthralled with reality TV, whether that means following club-trawling Jersey hotheads or peeping in on the affairs and traumas of the celebrity beautiful. So it's not surprising that producers at the USA Network might try to package a number of those "reality" elements—celebrity, salacious behavior and a seriously East Coast vibe—into its latest drama series.

Sports stars, divorce, boozy parties, mental cases … they're all a part of the breezy mix that is Necessary Roughness. The dramatic ignition spark at the center of this combustive collection is Dr. Dani Santino, a pretty psychotherapist who comes armed with a commonsense approach and a Long Island stare that's as cold as a January wind gusting off the Sound. And with her new job and recalibrated home life, she needs both.

The changes in Dr. Dani's world all began with a messy divorce from her bed-hopping hubby. The cut-the-cord choice seemed perfectly reasonable at first, but the challenge of single-handedly covering the bills with her tiny practice while trying to cope with a party-hearty daughter, a girl-happy son and a gamble-holic mother isn't exactly easy. In fact, it's almost impossible. So there's only one solution … hit the single's bar.

Under the weight of her worries, Dani takes the advice of flirty pal Jennifer and ends up in a one-night fling. But, as can only happen in New Jersey and on TV—or maybe it's in a TV version of New Jersey—that fling ends up being a good thing. The fellow she wakes up with turns out to be a nice-guy physical trainer for the footballing New York Hawks. And before you know it, Dr. Dani is introduced to the pro team's coach and signs on to help his superstars work through their mental issues—on and off the field.

As the title might suggest, Dr. Dani (loosely based on real-life housewife-turned-therapist Donna Dannenfelser) has to deal with two rough worlds—the sports biz and single parenthood—all while being tough enough to give as good as she gets. To that end, star Callie Thorne delivers. She gives us a good, balanced portrayal of an edgy therapist and a frazzled mom who we can root for—even when the scriptwriting might make her actions seem just a bit too slapdash silly.

Too bad the show itself works against her, packing in quite a few extra problems in the form of foul language, skimpy costumes, girl-pawing sports stars, loose sexuality, and a mix of booze and drug consumption. Now, I'm not saying that kind of rough-edged content isn't common in a pro-league locker room, singles club or strip joint (where some of the scenes are shot). What I'm saying is that it's certainly worth questioning whether it's necessary to get bounced around on your couch by that kind of roughness.

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Episode Reviews

NecessaryRoughness: 7132011
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