Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is an American comedy television series created by and starring Denis Leary as Johnny Rock, lead singer of the fictional band The Heathens, a middle-aged rock 'n roller who desperately wanted to be rich and famous but, so far, he's 0 for 2.
The show also stars John Corbett as Flash, The Heathens' guitarist, now a session musician with a regular gig playing for Lady Gaga, and Elizabeth Gillies as Gigi, lead singer of the fictional band The Assassins, and Johnny's daughter.
A 10-episode first season was ordered by FX, which premiered on July 16, 2015, and it was renewed for a second season which began airing on June 30, 2016. On September 9, 2016, following steadily declining viewership the show was cancelled.
Tropes in the series include:
- Brick Joke: In the first episode, Gigi gives a selfie of herself in a bikini to Johnny to convince Flash to reunite with the band. Later, in the third episode, she tweets it to gain followers.
- Chainsaw Good: Gigi takes a chainsaw to Flash's apartment after he cheats on her with Ava.
- Comforting the Widow: Rehab tries this with Ava when he believes the hoax about Johnny's death.
- Daddy's Girl: Gigi has grown up idolizing her absentee father at a distance, and yearns to both connect with him and join him in his rock and roll world. Johnny's absence in her upbringing has left her with a love of father figures, which is what attracts her to Flash.
- Dysfunction Junction: According to Gigi, "This band is so dysfunctional that makes Metallica look like the freaking Jonas Brothers." The band therapist also proclaims The Heathens/Assassins to be "the most fucked-up band in rock and roll history," which thrilled the band.
- Expy: Johnny for David Bowie, whose hair is compared to on multiple occasions. He is also mistaken for Christopher Walken in one episode.
- Five-Man Band:
- The Heathens / Assassins
- Johnny Rock = The Leader, grizzled and perpetually drunk/high out of his mind, he is self-absorbed and irresponsible in his approach to the business of his band.
- Flash = The Lancer and reluctant collaborator to Johnny. He's clean-cut, confident, responsible, and a successful backing musician for Lady Gaga with little tolerance for Johnny's selfish and self-destructive ways.
- Rehab = The Smart Guy insomuch that he is well-versed in various forms of music and capable of long, over-extended "song cycles" that overwhelm the other band members. Unfortunately for Rehab, the appeal of his eccentric work is lost on his fellow band-members and his work, as well as his ideas, go largely unappreciated.
- Bam Bam = The Big Guy and possibly the most easygoing member of the band. His biggest vice, overeating, is mostly just Played for Laughs and he is without a dangerous and crippling vice, allowing him to provide both advice and comedic relief to his band-members. Just don't deny him his drum solo.
- Ava = The Chick and moral backbone of the group. When Johnny loses his temper with his bandmates, Ava is often the one to calm him down and keep him working towards the band's goals. She fully supports Gigi in her ambitions and remained a part of the group once Johnny's daughter became a part of their lives, serving as sort of a Team Mom. In Gigi's band, The Assassins, she plays the tambourine and ukulele.
- Gigi = Sixth Ranger. Initially assumed to be a Tagalong Kid with pipe dreams and questionable potential, it becomes apparent that she has real musical talent and takes her place in the band as a vocalist, re-appropriating The Heathens members as members of her new band, The Assassins, and enlisting Flash and her father, Johnny, to write her songs.
- The Heathens / Assassins
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: An In-Universe example. In spite of the band's struggle to gain solid footing in rock and roll history, they have been adored and revered consistently since the early 90's...in Belgium.
- Hidden Depths: For all of Gigi's composure and her cool and collected exterior, she confides in her therapist that she is actually constantly fearful and likely suffers from an anxiety disorder.
- It's All About Me: Both Johnny and Gigi show this attitude.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Rob Morrow, who worked with John Corbett on the series Northern Exposure, guest starred in the episode "Because We're Legion".
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Johnny is an egomaniac junkie, but he cares for his long-time girlfriend Ava and his newfound daughter Gigi. n the pilot, after their (disastrous) first encounter, Gigi tells Johnny that she just wants him as a songwriter, but she smiles when she hears him going Papa Wolf about her with the band.
- Meaningful Name: The Assassins derive their name from a publicity hoax in which Johnny is believed to have been murdered by Flash.
- Ms. Fanservice: Both Gigi and Ava have their moments of this. Gigi gives a selfie of herself in a bikini to Johnny in order to convince Flash to reunite with the band; she later tweets it to gain followers.
- Nightmare Fetishist: In the second season premiere, after Micki's (the other back up singer from the pilot) funeral, Gigi wants to open the caskett to see her ashes.
- Not So Different: When playing the celebrity recognition game with the band therapist, Gigi and Johnny prove to be very competitive and egotistical.
- Papa Wolf: Johnny to Gigi, whom he protects from his bandmates, particularly Flash. He insists that his bandmates not objectify or advance upon his daughter, which is met with amusement and resistance by both the bandmates as well as Gigi herself.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: It's the title of the show, folks. That said, the sex and drugs part are more implied or brought up via backstory as opposed to being explicitly shown on screen.
- Surprise Incest: In the pilot, Johnny spots Gigi at a bar, walks up to her, and kisses her, only for her to hit him and reveal she's his daughter.
- Switch-Out Move: In Belgium, during The Heathens' last tour, Johnny trips out on Rehab's questionable prescription medications and hallucinates that animals have overtaken the stage. Gigi stands in for him and the band begins performing as The Assassins.
- Wicked Stepmother:
- Subverted. Ava is totally supportive of Gigi (even over Gigi's relationship with Flash). When Ava calls herself "a cool surrogate mother," Gigi smiles at her.
- However, Ava does end up sleeping with Flash and stealing him away from Gigi.
- Younger Than They Look: Flash desperately attempts to achieve this in order to be attractive to younger girls.
- Your Cheating Heart: Ava and Flash begin an affair halfway through the second season that ends with them leaving Johnny and Gigi, respectively and hooking up together.