The February 6 episode of Showtime's Episodes makes jokes about an issue that television comedy has long avoided: rape. The storyline finds Matt LeBlanc (playing an overly clueless version of himself) at a rape prevention benefit, struggling to uncork a bottle of wine — oblivious to the survivor onstage relating the story of her brutal attack. Wickedly funny or brazenly insensitive?
"Certainly there's nothing funny about rape, but it seemed like a wonderful forum for Matt's inappropriateness," says David Crane, who created the series with partner Jeffrey Klarik. "The fact that Matt's an idiot shouldn't impact on what the message is," Klarik stresses.
Later, a crude studio executive enters with his blind wife who organized the benefit and tells LeBlanc that all he's heard from her is "rape, rape, rape, rape, rape... it's enough to make you want to do it."
"Certainly these are jokes you could never do on network TV," says Crane, who previously tackled AIDS on HBO's Dream On. "But that's why we're on Showtime."