Third-episode verdict: Necessary Roughness

The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 3

In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, USA Network. Available on

So we’re three episodes into USA Network’s "sports and entertainment therapy" dramedy, Necessary Roughness, and it’s still hard to work out why. While the first episode wasn’t badly made, the big question hanging over it was: "What is the point of this programme?" After three episodes, that question’s still here.

I guess if you’re into sports, having a show about sports and sports psychology might be interesting in and of its own right. However, given these are fake players, the sports psychology is a little bit vague and "Oh, you’re really worried about your father. Well, now you know that, you’re fixed", and the show is also delving into other problems of the rich and famous (or journalists), this probably still isn’t the show for you.

On its own terms as a drama, it’s also a bit lacking. Callie Thorne is charismatic enough, but she never seems fully to commit to the moment – she’s always looking for a way to play the funny, even when she’s supposed to be angry. Her relationship with Marc Blucas, sports trainer extraordinaire, is slightly different from what we’ve come to expect of "will they, won’t they?" TV relationships, but neither character has enough depth or charm for us to care.

Blucas is, as he was in Buffy and more or less everything he’s ever been in, largely only there to give Thorne’s character a love interest, and while there are countless shows with female characters only there as love interests for the male characters, those shows suffer from the same problems as Necessary Roughness but in reverse. Add on that the usual dollop of misogyny you’d normally expect from male sports stars (certainly on TV) and it’s not really a hospitable environment for either male or female viewers, particularly when you factor in Thorne’s whiny teenage children.

If there is one glimmer of hope in the entire show, it’s Scott Cohen’s Nico, the security detail for Thorne and Blucas’s employer. He’s a nice edge to a somewhat edgeless show, but isn’t in it enough.

Nevertheless, it’s not a show devoid of merits and it does have a few charms. Not enough for me to carry on watching, but a few. If you watched it, I wouldn’t blame you. I’d wonder why, but I wouldn’t blame you.

Carusometer rating: 3
Rob’s prediction: Might get renewed for a second season, but probably doesn’t deserve it.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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