No doubt you have heard about the miniseries called “The Kennedys” that was supposed to air on the History Channel, but was canceled in response to pressure from the Kennedy family. It is, instead, appearing on the less well-known ReelzChannel. My wife VCRed the first two hours, and we watched them after dinner last night. Having done so, I think we know why the Kennedy family tried to squelch the series.
It isn’t because the series contains any new revelations–so far, anyway–or, as far as I could tell, any particular historical inaccuracies. On the contrary, the content of the first two hours was generally familiar to anyone who is knowledgeable about our recent history.
What makes “The Kennedys” dangerous is that it is marvelously entertaining. The story is lurid but compelling. The villainous but likable Joseph P. Kennedy, the almost inhumanly lecherous Jack, the loyal little brother Bobby, the wronged wife Jacqueline, the larger-than-life oldest brother Joe Jr., who reminds me of Hamlet in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, may be comic-strip characters, but they spring vigorously to life in this production. Someone invested a lot of money and a lot of skill to make this series. It is the entertainment value of “The Kennedys” that makes it a threat. Many millions of people would enjoy watching it, and most of them would learn quite a bit that they don’t already know in the process.
The major weakness of the series so far is that the actor who plays John Kennedy (actually, there are two) can’t begin to match the real man’s charisma. For the plot to work, you have to take it as a given that JFK exerted a magnetic attraction, and not only for women; but you don’t really see it. Maybe that isn’t a fair standard, though–if the actor had that much charisma he could be President.
So if you want to do something subversive and enjoy a guilty pleasure at the same time, check out “The Kennedys” on ReelzChannel.
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