The following contains spoilers for Rain Dogs Season 1, Episode 1, “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City,” streaming now on HBO Max. The article also contains a discussion on sexual assault.
When it comes to class issues, HBO has several series that lean into the topic. Series such as The White Lotus detail how the working class fights for scraps while the wealthy and privileged get away with so much.
Succession kicks it up a notch, with the Roys throwing shade at everyone beneath them in the battle for Logan’s media empire. Properties like Somebody Somewhere are much more relatable, depicting stories most people can connect with in a lighthearted manner. The network now has another series, Rain Dogs, that’s similar to the latter. However, it quickly turns from a comedy-drama into a horrifying tale of the struggling working class.
Rain Dogs Initially Feels Like a Wacky Bad Parent Story
Rain Dogs focuses on Costello, a single mom in England, raising young Iris. Similar to Adam Sandler‘s Big Daddy, she’s totally immature, and as her daughter realizes, irresponsible. However, Costello draws sympathy when she’s evicted, running from cabs to avoid paying the fare and begging laundromats to store their belongings.
She’s hard-up and depressed after being dealt major blows by life. She masks the pain by bumbling through funny event after funny event. But Rain Dogs‘ premiere goes from a warm story of a family to a truly dark one that leaves viewers very uncomfortable, especially when one considers Iris’ proximity to a very despicable act her mom has no control over.
Rain Dogs Depicts Sexual Coercion and Violence
The tone of Rain Dogs shifts dramatically when Costello accepts an offer from a man, Brett, to stay at his residence. Broke and desperate, she agrees, with Brett putting Iris in the closet. However, it’s not free; he wants Costello to dress up and perform sexual acts. From the mood to the lighting to the music, it feels like an entirely different show as Costello panics.
Worst of all, it’s uncertain if Iris is asleep or hearing it all in the closet. Admittedly, while Costello is a bad influence, she doesn’t deserve this, which speaks to the real-world problems of women and immigrants in at-risk situations suffering at the hands of toxic males. It speaks to abuse, urban decay and class warfare, as Brett tries to enact his sexual fantasies by preying on a mom in need. Shockingly, he’s not even an aggressive predator; he’s mild-mannered and gentle, which is why Costello was baited in the first place.
It’s a statement on how these monsters walk around in broad daylight, fooling everyone. Luckily, she’s able to call her gay best friend, Selby, who just got out of jail. But rather than rescue them quietly, Selby shows up and beats Brett with a pipe in something one would expect from a Guy Ritchie film. It’s another awful lesson for Iris, which is why Costello makes it clear that while she’s accepting Selby’s gambling winnings and grateful for his help, he can’t stick around. This is her way of trying to break the vicious cycle of abuse, drugs and sex that orbits them, adding to the emotional heft of Rain Dogs. Ultimately, it’s mostly a dark comedy, but it takes a while to snap back into fun mode after such depraved, horrible heights that reinforce there are going to be very brutal scenes to come regarding how the working class is taken advantage of.
Rain Dogs debuts new episodes Mondays at 10 pm ET on HBO and HBO Max.