This post is a stub full of random bloviation and not polished and sandblasted to rich critic-y shininess.
Rescue Me is a damn good shot. It hits a consistently high level. The characters are interesting. The dialogue is great. It takes me into a world I wouldn't otherwise enter. Which is what I want fiction (written, staged or filmed) to do. I.e. get me outta this world. Put me in another one. Good job.
The show has a core philosophy, a basic value system. For want of a better term, it's the value system of sexist, macho assholes. These are the guys (and occasionally chicks) who -- thanks to the genetic lottery -- represent that small portion of the population that doesn't fear danger, wants to fight, needs that adrenaline rush, and actively puts themselves in danger. These are the (mostly) dudes who put out fire, put bad guys in jail and fight wars. We need these guys. But there's collateral damage.
These guys also get into fights, take pills, cheat on their wives, beat on their wives, and screw up royally in their personal lives.
My gut feeling is Dennis Leary shares the basic worldview of these guys. Which goes something like: We're macho assholes. But the rest of you pussies need us macho assholes to fight fire, wars, crooks, etc.
He has that value system. But I have to give him credit. He takes a sledge hammer to the fountation of his moral philosophy and whacks the hell out of it to see if he can make it fall down. Is it solid? We'll find out. WHACK WHACK WHACK.
Leary has a worldview. But he gives the opposing worldview equal time. He extends his chin and says gimme a shot. There are no strawmen in his universe. He doesn't sugarcoat the reality of his world. That takes balls.
I like this show.