Perhaps one of the most "difficult" television series to ever make it into production, Showtime's "Rude Awakening" is worth the effort it takes to warm up to a cast of flawed, occasionally unlikable, and all-too-human characters.
The material is a look at addiction, sex, and dysfunctional families, filtered through a sitcom sensibility. Sherilyn Fenn's Billie Frank is habitually self-destructive, with a gift for making the wrong choice at every given opportunity, and most of the addiction, sex, and dysfunction revolves around her.
What makes Billie a watchable, sympathetic creation is her ability to spot her own culpability in her failures, and her sputtering, stuttering romance with Jonathan Penner's Dave. Penner gets a lot of mileage out of the show's thinnest major character, the owner of a coffee shop and the person who helped guide Billie into a 12-step program, but his function is mostly just to stand around and trade hyper-sexual barbs with Fenn.
Lynn Redgrave, on the other hand, is in full diva mode with Trudy, Bille's mother. And it is indeed a sight to behold; intensely, bitingly funny, cruel, and relentlessly self-involved, Trudy is a work of art. Unlike her daughter, Redgrave's character has no saving grace, but somehow remains the most compelling thing on the screen at any given moment.
Without question, RA's run has been uneven. When it wanders away from its central themes, the show can easily begin to look like the most painful sort of cable comedy, with little more than explicit language but like its main character, when "Rude Awakening" finds its feet and takes a clear-eyed look at where it is and where it hopes to go, it can make for a funny, intense half-hour of entertainment.