September 20, 2011 1:25 UTC
Had A&E announced the production of a multimillion-dollar series “based on a true story,” and called it The Kowalskis the network could have saved itself big headaches. Instead, it went ahead with a multimillion-dollar series “based on a true story,” and called it The Kennedys. Either way they would have had an expensive, lavish, absorbing soap opera that would have garnered a large audience.
Changing names and costumes and naming the series The Kowalskis would have allowed A&E an opportunity to reap the benefits of all the hype it expended on the series. Screenwriters would have had to tamper with some scenes, but that wouldn’t have been difficult; after all, they tampered with history when they created the original screenplay.
With a family as large as the Kennedys, telling their story in a mere six hours would be difficult; therefore, The Kennedys focuses on Rose and Joe, Sr., Jackie and Jack, and Bobby. A few other Kennedys are along for the ride, but outside of Ethel don’t get much screen time. The series does a nice job of recreating history, but it’s in the family relationships that it’s the most fun.
Rose Kennedy is depicted as a deliciously mean-spirited mother-in-law to a wispy, fragile Jacqueline Kennedy; Joe, Sr., and Jack are sex-crazed Lotharios which their wives abide; and Bobby—the central character—is an altar boy who serves as the conscience of the family. If it seems like the characters are two-dimensional, it’s only because they are.
The Kennedys should not be viewed as an accurate historical narrative, but more as a romanticized, sexy, historical fiction. Of course, if it were named The Kowalskis, Theodore Sorenson wouldn’t have given it extra allure by claiming it was vindictive and malicious—money can’t buy PR that good.
The Kennedys arrives on Blue-ray and DVD September 20, 2011.
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