Jul 31 2013 3:30pm

Ray Donovan’s Sly Romance: Romancing Terry Donovan

Eddie Marsan and Brooke Smith as Terry Donovan and FrancesEven when you go to the movie theater these days you can’t escape commercials. It was during these twenty minutes of selling that I first heard about the new Showtime series, Ray Donovan. Ray is a “fixer” who takes care of problems for his high-profile clients in Los Angeles. I’ve always liked the star of the series, Liev Schreiber, and the prospect of Jon Voight playing his not-so-nice father intrigued.

Naturally I fell for the show hook, line and sinker after the first episode. Besides being Angelina Jolie’s real-life father, Voigt reminds viewers he can actually act and there’s enough family drama and dysfunction to keep this not-so-reformed soap opera addict very happy. Everybody on this show is capable of behaving badly, and it’s got enough sleazy Hollywood glitz that I cannot imagine the writers running out of ideas anytime soon.

It certainly doesn’t sound like a series that would feature a romance, but very slyly the writers have given us one. Ray has two brothers, along with a half-brother. One of those brothers is Terry Donovan, played by British actor Eddie Marsan. Terry, I suspect, might have originally been construed as a tragic character, but he’s turned into anything but. He was a boxer, who is now suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He owns his own gym and trains boxers, but naturally the effects of his condition aren’t easy to live with.

Terry has a visiting nurse, a physical therapist, named Frances, played by Brooke Smith. It’s evident, very early on, that she is attracted to him. However, Terry is one part clueless and two parts unsure of himself. He knows Frances is attracted to him, his brother Ray even sees it, but that doesn’t mean he’s Mr. Suave, having all the right moves to declare his intentions. Frances sends out signals, and finally, partially goaded by her and Ray, he musters up the courage to ask her out to dinner. Well, to cook her dinner in the same gym that he not only owns, but lives in.

Terry Donovan in Ray DonovanHave I mentioned he’s not Mr. Suave?

There’s a sweetness to the whole affair that reminds this romance reader that heroes come in all stripes. Certainly the current trend in the genre is towards Alpha billionaires, wounded Doms with red rooms of pain, and macho military heroes. Terry Donovan reminds us that, in real life, men cannot be simply condensed down to one character trait.

Certainly, Terry is Alpha. He was a boxer, his father is a criminal, and his brother certainly skirts the edges of the law. He doesn’t come from a nice background. He has had to be tough. He still is tough. However that doesn’t automatically translate into being a ladies’ man. He bumbles his way around his attraction to Frances. He never quite knows the right thing to say. He muddles through it, bringing a gentle ineptitude that’s hard not to fall in love with. Lucky for him, Frances sees underneath all that, and like this viewer is completely charmed by him.

It reminds me of why I adore a well-done Beta hero so much, and reinforces the fact that Beta does not equate to being wimpy. Terry isn’t a wimp. He’s just not Mr. Smooth. And because he’s not Mr. Smooth he’s probably got every woman currently watching Ray Donovan ready to take him home to meet her parents. Of course we’ll all have to figure out a way to explain the future in-laws.


Wendy the Super Librarian also blogs at So dig that library card out of your pocket and head for the stacks.

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Wendy the Super Librarian
1. SuperWendy
I wrote this post before last week's episode - which just GUTTED me. Oh Frances, I hope there's a reasonable explanation.

Of course maybe this means I now have Terry all to myself.....

Carmen Pinzon
2. bungluna
I was going to mention that episode. I've been watching this show with the inevitability of watching a disaster in progress. Ray has all the defects of his virtues, his father is creepy, his associates are horrible and his wife just makes me wanna slap her upside the head (never mind the idiot kids!) Yet I cannot stop myself from watching every week.

Terry is a great character; I wish the writers hadn't felt the need to pile on the angst. Couldn't they had left me a crumb of happiness in this mess of suffering?
Wendy the Super Librarian
3. SuperWendy
Bungluna: I also LOVE Ray's lesbian colleague/assistant/whatever-she-is, Lena. When she b*tch-slapped the pop-tart last week I wanted to kiss her on the lips. I wish the writers would give her more to do, but My Man thinks we won't get any more depth to her until at least Season Two (and he's probably right, darn him!)
Saundra Peck
4. sk1336
I LOVE this show.... It is uncomfortable and yet it holds you every moment. It is another of those awesome shows where you just CANNOT guess what will happen next. I love Lena too, really hope she starts doing more fixing herself....she is obviously capable!
Wendy the Super Librarian
5. SuperWendy
sk1336: Last night's episode was SO good! I might be more in love with Terry now - since, you know, he's the only decent human being on the show. Well, Bunchy has potential to be decent - but he's so massively screwed up it's kinda hard to see that happening.....
6. PhoebeChase
Did you see last night's episode? Terry in the boxing ring, shirtless? And looking bad ass!
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