It sounds like an inside joke. If it is--if Graham Patrick Martin is one of those characters that viewers love to hate (FYI: I like him)--he bears a remarkable similarity to Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher.
In both cases, a teenage boy is adopted into an adult world: a Major Crimes Squad/a starship. In both cases, the boy is older than his years. In Rusty's case, his experience on the streets has given him a belligerent, yet adult (though not mature) comprehension of the world. In Wesley's case, his supposed genius (which gets watered down in later seasons) justifies allowing him on the bridge (since Star Trek: TNG isn't about Wesley, his genius is eventually transformed into him being very, very bright; otherwise, he would be called upon to solve every problem!).
Both teenage boys are boyishly cute. I personally find Graham Patrick Martin more interesting to watch than Wil Wheaton (who grew a burly beard after Star Trek but willingly spoofs his youth on Big Bang Theory). Graham Patrick Martin is also--my apologies to Wil Wheaton--a somewhat better actor. His exchanges with M.A.S.H. graduate, G.W. Bailey (I can't believe how long it took me to figure that connection out!) are downright amusing. Still, Martin is so youthful looking that I assumed for several seasons that he was the same age as his character.
|Rusty walking away from his drug-addled mother.|
To put it another way, audiences have a tough time being asked to sympathize with distressed teens.
|Although I was never fond of Wesley Crusher, I|
|never hated him or confused him with the actor!|
|I was very happy that Sheldon was made a Wesley|
|Crusher fan (albeit a disappointed one).|
So maybe I should amend my statement to "Audiences have a tough time being asked to sympathize with distressed teens, especially teens who are supposed to be geniuses and who fulfill the role of whiner rather than rebel."
In real life, I think most people would prefer to have Wesley as their kid followed by Rusty (despite the whole "street" background). And yet, when it comes to drama, we seem to prefer teens who are sarcastic and rule-breaking (that is, teens who in reality cost their parents a great deal of money and anxiety).
I wonder if adult audiences in American culture feel that they are already being asked to sympathize too much with teens ("teenager" as a stage in life is a relatively new development in human civilization). So much angst in our culture over teen problems and teen crises and teen fears and teen angst!
|Provenza (Bailey) and Raydor (McDonnell)|
Wil Wheaton left Star Trek: TNG at the end of year four. James Duff has kept Rusty on Major Crimes by changing his raison d'etre (this is the best approach--see my notes on Stargate). The focus is no longer on his filial relationship with Sharon Raydor (played by the incredibly talented Mary McDonnell) but on his relationship with Gus. He also isn't expected to carry the show, something Mary McDonnell and G.W. Bailey are well-able to do by themselves.