Rob Lowe has played a lawyer on TV a few times now, but in his new series, he plays an actor starring as a lawyer on a TV show who then begins fake lawyering in his real life.
How’s that for meta?
Lowe charms audiences once again, starring as Dean Sanderson, Jr., a popular actor who plays lawyer Mitch Grinder on a legal drama, also called The Grinder. When his show is cancelled after eight seasons, Dean heads back to his hometown of Boise, Idaho, where his father and brother – both actual lawyers – are running the family’s small-town law firm.
Former child star Fred Savage (Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years), now 39, is back in front of the camera after years of TV directing. He co-stars as Dean’s younger brother Stewart, who’s perpetually overshadowed by his famous sibling, and is equally charming – in all his awkwardness – as the straight man to Lowe’s slick star.
It’s not a Hollywood show, or even a lawyer show, even though that’s the backdrop. “It’s a sibling rivalry show,” according to Lowe.
“[Dean] is Stewart’s biggest fan,” Lowe told Bio and a small group reporters at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles. “And he has the love of the world, but he wants the love of his brother more than anything.”
When Dean discovers that his little brother lacks his legal-eagle flair in the courtroom, he thinks his years of experience from playing a lawyer on TV qualifies him to give legal advice, so he teams up with Stewart to help him win cases, Grinder-style. (He also moves in with Stewart and his family, just to put the “fun” in family dysfunction.)
“The thing I love about [Dean's lawyer character in] The Grinder is you really can’t argue with his logic. It’s insane but it kind of makes perfect sense,” Lowe told us.
“We will milk him not having a law degree for as long as we can,” Lowe responded when asked about how long the conceit can go on. “It really will be wherever the storytelling takes us.”
So far, the only bad thing about the show is the title, The Grinder, which, for some, may immediately call to mind a certain social media dating app. But the pilot itself is actually quite entertaining and shows a lot of promise, particularly when compared with the lackluster sitcom competition debuting this fall.
And the chemistry between Lowe and Savage is fantastic. The rest of the cast is solid as well: William Devane (24: Live Another Day) plays their father Dean Sr., who owns the family law firm; Mary Elizabeth Ellis (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) plays Stewart’s wife Debbie, with whom he has two children; and Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation), plays Claire, a lawyer at a rival firm and a potential love interest for Dean.
In the guest-star department, look for Christina Applegate to appear later in the season as a former high-school sweetheart of Dean’s. Entourage’s Emmanuelle Chriqui will also guest star as Mitch’s on-screen flame, according to EW.
For Lowe, it’s clear he’s having fun with the role. It’s a send-up of the actor types he knows so very well and encounters every day in Hollywood – the vain, self-absorbed beautiful person who’s a little bit clueless.
“I just get to take the piss out of the stuff in this business that drives me crazy, even though I love it,” Lowe said.
During our time with Lowe, he also revealed the secret to his longevity: “If you get the ability to operate at the farthest edges of your range, that’s the dream. And then hopefully people don’t get tired of seeing you in one way.”
Speaking of longevity, it’s hard not to notice that the Hollywood hunk, who got his big break as one of the dreamy cast members of 1983’s The Outsiders, doesn’t look anywhere near his 51 years of age.
“I loved it,” Lowe said of turning 50 last year. “My 40th birthday was harder. I felt a good sense of satisfaction with 50 — it’s half a century. I feel better than I’ve ever felt, in every way better than I ever have in my life, and really grateful. 50 is the new 20.”
The Grinder premieres, Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 8:30/7:30c on FOX.