USA's New Show 'Rush' Is Like 'Royal Pains' On Steroids Mixed With A Little 'House'
Sure, the current television line-up might be overflowing with medical dramas, but do we really care all that much? Nope. USA's newest original show Rush premieres Thursday, and with it comes a can chocked full of James Bond-coolness, indisposed patients, shiny cars, and a narcissistic, drug-fueled yet lovable medical fixer named Dr. William P. Rush who can't help but break all of the rules. To get a first-hand look at the lavishly intense drama, I was able to visit the Rush set and meet up with the show's leading man Tom Ellis — a Brit who humorously begs that you ignore the "Wikipedia bullshit" that says he's from North Wales — Larenz Tate, who plays Rush's best friend, and executive producer Craig Wright.
"They [USA] don't really do shows like this," says Tate, who plays Alex Burke. "They’re elevating their storytelling and their programming. They’re showing that they want shows that are stylized and sort of sexy and provocative. This is a great spin on a medical drama… With Rush being the medical fixer who sort of does his thing with all of the elite folk in Hollywood and Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. He takes us on a road to an underworld of what people are doing in Hollywood, and it's kind of nice because it's true."
The show follows Rush as he caters to a wealthy L.A.-based clientele. It's an ideal symbiotic relationship: The clients get to keep their personal and dirty medical secrets private — a broken penis doesn't sound too hot to us — and Rush makes an obscene amount of money (all in cash, of course). The only problem is that, well, Rush definitely has a serious drug (and ego) problem to deal with. The gorgeous hotel he lives in and the classic Mercedes he drives are just a facade covering up the inner demons that he constantly fights to keep at bay. A man with emotional issues? Yum.
"As any of us know who have enjoyed and suffered people in our lives who are difficult but irreplaceable, I think Rush is going to come off that way," says Wright. "You know that he's making mistakes sometimes, you might wish a different lifestyle for him at any given moment, but he's so unique and so charming and, also, so good at what he does, that you sort of wouldn't want it any other way."
But doesn't he kind of remind us of another USA medical professional? Let's see, a doctor who treats wealthy clients in their homes instead of at a hospital… Watson, I think we've got it: Royal Pains ' Dr. Hank Lawson, Hampton extraordinaire.
“We would never want to be accused of copying [Royal Pains]," says Wright. "Rush is on a much different personal journey than Hank, and as is the family of characters around him. I’d say that everyone on Rush has a few more skeletons in their closet, and definitely has on a week-to-week basis an unfolding story that's drawing them deeper and deeper to their own demons in a way that will differentiate the show quite clearly."
Although the show is probably going to face those comparisons in the future, the character of Rush also has something different going for him: a slick swagger. Unlike Hank Lawson, he's not afraid to be a little naughty and have fun with the illegal side of things, and unlike another comparable fictional drug-addicted doctor, Dr. House, he has a decent-sized pebble of compassion in his apathetic heart that's squirming to get out. Another aspect of the show that proves Rush is redeemable? He has a love interest that he just can't shake: Sarah, his ex-girlfriend.
"There's a lot of history there, and I think it's really important that we keep characters that ground the show and ground the reality of Rush outside of this hazy part of his hedonistic life that he's chosen at the moment," says Ellis. "Sarah is so important because I think she's one of the few characters in the show who can look at him, and look right inside of him, right down into his soul. And that's a very exposing place for him to be, and a very raw place for him to be. But needed because it humanizes the character. Anybody can emphasize with love."
Basically, Rush is one of those guys who doesn't think his actions have consequences. But as we all know, they definitely do.
"None of his [Rush's] choices that he makes are to hurt people," says Ellis. "He’s in a very selfish point in his life. I think the medication he takes for himself helps him sort of aquaplane through life. He’s a good guy, he just makes some bad choices."
Rush airs on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on USA.
Images: Gavin Bond (2), Alan Zenuk (3)/USA Network
Editor's note: a previous version of this article attributed executive director Craig Wright's quotes to director Bill Johnson.