The Showtime series Ray Donovan should win a special Emmy award for having the largest number of offensive ethnic and racial stereotypes. That, combined with the wooden acting of the lead character (played by Liev Schreiber) makes the show almost unwatchable. Of course, the show is about to enter its fifth season, so a lot of people must actually like it.
The best thing that can be said of this show is that it is an equal opportunity offender. It is insulting not only to Irish-Americans, but also to Jews and African-Americans. This show has so many stereotypes, it actually becomes fun to start counting them up as you go along. Let’s see how many we can find.
- The family comes from Boston. Ray Donovan is the story of an extended Irish-American family in Los Angeles. But of course, like all other Irish-American’s in the United States they actually originally lived in Boston. In fact, in the series, there don’t seem to be any Irish-American’s who were actually born on the West Coast
- The entire family speaks with Boston accents, or at least what the actors think are Boston accents. This is one of the weirdest parts of the show since the some of the actors do a good job with the accents and some don’t. Perhaps the strangest accent is that of Paula Malcomson who plays Abby Donovan. This actress is actually from Northern Ireland, but for some reason seems to be doing some sort of exaggerated New Jersey accent.
- One or more of the brothers were sexually abused by priests. The sexual abuse problems in the Catholic Church are a real problem that should not be taken lightly. That’s why it is particularly offensive to have them used as a plot device for a T.V show.
- Mickey Donovan is a cheap imitation of Whitey Bulger. Jon Voight plays the grandfather Mickey Donovan. He is a Boston mobster who is allowed to get away with a lot of illegal activities, including murder, since he is being protected by the FBI. Of course, this is exactly a copy of the real-life Boston mobster Whitey Bulger.
- The African-American who lives next door to Ray Donovan is a rap singer.
This neighbor wears gold chains, speaks with an exaggerated “ghetto” accent, and of course plays loud thumping music day and night.
- The African-American neighbor is adopting a boy whose real mother is an African-American crack addict. This boy is also a rap singer and calls himself “Marvin Gaye Washington.” The crack addicted mother is convinced to give her son up for adoption in return for enough money to allow her to buy more drugs.
- African American prostitutes are in abundance in the show. That’s right, Showtime has chosen not to show any of the wealthy African-American doctors, lawyers, or businesspeople in L.A. Instead the African-American community is portrayed as consisting of rap singers and crack-whores.
- Ray Donovan’s Jewish business partner is a tiny cowardly man who is only interested in money. Peter Jacobson plays Ray’s business partner Lee Drexler. While Ray is out kicking ass, threatening people and solving problem’s, Lee’s main function seems to be whining about the firm not making enough money. This is the age-old stereotype of the Jew as a money grubbing wimp. Not tough enough to handle his own problems, he needs to rely on the tough Irish guy when the going gets rough.
- Ray’s Jewish boss is a neurotic hypocritical millionaire who uses a lot of Yiddish and Hebrew phrases. Elliott Gould plays Ezra Goldman, a man who worships the memory of his deceased wife even though he kept a mistress while the wife was alive. This, of course, is the personification of the stereotype of “Jewish guilt”.
We could go on and on, but you get the idea. There is not a single character in this show who comes across as someone you might actually meet in real life. Real people are complex, multifaceted individuals. You cannot predict how they will act simply based on their religion or ethnic background.
The so called “mystery” of the series is why Ray Donovan wants nothing to do with his own father Mickey (Played by Jon Voight). Even this plot line is not original. A much more interesting mystery is why Jon Voight’s real daughter Angelina Jolie refuses to have anything to do with him and even changed her name to avoid all association.
We rate this show two Stars **
- For a story about how stereotypes still hurt read Prejudice Against Italian-Americans.
- See Martin Luther King Day- The Most Racially Segregated Day of the Year.
- Read All our T.V. reviews