For USA's Necessary Roughness, Envelope-Pushing Sexiness 'Was Always the Plan'

This Wednesday at 10/9c, USA Network unveils its newest series, Necessary Roughness, starring Rescue Me‘s Callie Thorne as a down-on-her-luck therapist who abruptly finds herself on track to become a “shrink to the stars.” Are you on the fence about making an appointment with Dr. Dani Santino? Let executive producers Craig Shapiro and Jeff Lieber entice you with a preview of what just might be this summer’s sexiest small-screen offering.

Fun for Everyone | Necessary Roughness is set in the world of professional sports — but any football-phobic ladies need not fret. “We tried to find a good balance of the estrogen and testosterone,” Shapiro tells TVLine. “It has a lot of fun stuff for guys when it comes to sports, but at the core of the story is a woman who discovers this well of strength that she did not know she had, when she’s forced to reinvent herself at 38 years old.” The pilot episode finds Dr. Dani (played by Thorne) in the throes of an ugly divorce, all the while expanding her therapy career into the world of pro football — namely working with troubled athlete Terrence “TK” King (True Blood‘s Mehcad Brooks). This dynamic doc will be seeing other patients, as well, though. “Moving forward we’ll have a case of the week, and those will be closed-ended stories,” says Shapiro. “In the first six episodes, we have a guy who’s a network news anchor, a poker player, another football player and a woman who runs a multi-million dollar magazine.”

Sexy Times | True, there are good looking people on all USA series. And yes, some storylines do delve into sexy territory from time to time. But Roughness is sexy from start to finish — and far edgier than anything on the cabler today. That fact is not lost on the show’s producers. “Sexiness was always the plan,” Shapiro explains. “USA wanted to push it a bit, so they’ve allowed us to go to places they wouldn’t normally go, and everybody seems happy with that.” However, he adds, the edginess only goes “to a point, because we still want to keep things light.”

Dream Team | Necessary Roughness boasts a cast as expansive as it is attractive, with Thorne, Brooks, Marc Blucas (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Scott Cohen (Gilmore Girls). “I only thought about getting the best possible actors for the parts,” Shapiro explains. “And then it just so happened that everyone was incredibly gorgeous. In Mechad’s case, the guy is one of the great personalities I’ve ever met — he’s really smart and really funny. He didn’t even audition. We just met him in a coffee shop [and] said, ‘That’s the guy.'” Dr. Dani was a tougher role to fill, though one Shapiro immediately knew belonged to Thorne. “That’s a hard one to cast because this person has to be sexy and smart and tough and empathetic, and the right age to be the mother of two teenage children, and believably from New York City,” notes the EP. “Therein lies a very small pool of actors, and Callie was just so much the part.”

True to Life | Lieber tells us that while cases will be addressed in a weekly, procedural-type manner, Roughness strives to honor the therapy process. “One thing we tried to stick to was that people are not fixed in one session,” he offers. “TK is a perfect example of that. With him it’s always two steps forward and one step back. He moves past his crisis point [in the pilot] and Dani helps him get his life back on track — as opposed to saying he is cured.”

TK Equals T.O.? | After watching the premiere, you’ll better understand why we had to ask if Brooks’ character was inspired by any, ahem, other misbehaving athletes in the public eye. Lieber responds with a laugh, “Definitely not one in particular, but there is no shortage of wide receivers acting like boneheads for our own inspiration. You can see a piece of Terrell “T.O.” Owens and a piece of Chad Ochocinco and a piece of Plaxico Burress…. There’s a little of all these guys in that character.”