Television Review: ‘Legit,’ With Jim Jefferies, on FX

January 17th, 2013

FX

Legit From left, D J Qualls, Dan Bakkedahl and the Australian comic Jim Jefferies (playing an Australian comic) in the premiere of this FX series, Thursday nights at 10:30, Eastern and Pacific times; 9:30, Central.

With jolting premieres coming up from shows like “The Following” and “Bates Motel,” the winter television season is going to separate viewers who like their TV strong and unsettling from those who don’t.

“Legit,” an aggressively indelicate comedy that begins on Thursday night on FX, apparently didn’t want anyone from the tame side of that split to linger long. It opens with a joke about the benefits of marrying and impregnating a terminally ill woman, the chief one being that she’ll die soon after childbirth, thereby relieving her husband of his ball and chain. And that’s before the episode gets to its main plot, which involves taking a man with advanced muscular dystrophy to a prostitute.

Yes, this show, which stars the Australian comedian Jim Jefferies, is eager to raise your eyebrows. The question is whether it has any depth or insight to offer once it does. The evidence provided by the first three episodes is inconclusive.

Mr. Jefferies, continuing a minitrend this season of actors portraying characters who are slightly fictionalized versions of themselves, plays an Australian comic named Jim who is living in Los Angeles. Dan Bakkedahl plays his roommate, Steve, but the character everything revolves around, at least in the early going, is Billy, Steve’s brother, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair. D J Qualls, who already had a fairly eclectic résumé (“Road Trip,” “Hustle & Flow,” “Supernatural”), is Billy, who as the series opens lives in an institution of some kind.

In the premiere Jim dragoons Steve into helping him take Billy to a prostitute for his first sex, an act that is bluntly discussed. Whether and how people with disabilities have sex seem to be Hollywood preoccupations at the moment, as films like “The Sessions” and “Rust and Bone” attest, though the subject is hardly new; “Coming Home” explored it back in 1978. It’s in danger of feeling somewhat obligatory, a prurient question that has to be addressed if a character with a disability is going to be featured prominently.

Does “Legit” have anyplace to go once it gets this subject out of the way? Possibly not. Episode 3 goes right back to it with an Internet-sex plot. It’s amusingly carried off, but it leaves you thinking: “O.K., I get it. There’s humor to be mined from the sex lives of people with disabilities and our discomfort with the subject. Now what else have you got?”

Legit

FX, Thursday nights at 10:30, Eastern and Pacific times; 9:30, Central time.

Produced by FX Productions. Written by Jim Jefferies, Peter O’Fallon and Richard Cleveland; directed by Mr. O’Fallon; Mr. Jefferies, Mr. O’Fallon, Mr. Cleveland and Lisa Blum, executive producers; Paul Bernard and James Scura, producers.

WITH: Jim Jefferies (Jim Jefferies), Dan Bakkedahl (Steve Nugent) D J Qualls (Billy Nugent), Mindy Sterling (Janice Nugent), John Ratzenberger (Walter Nugent), and Nick Daley (Rodney Jackson).

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