Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Kennedy Mystaqe

When I subscribed to Netflix, through my Roku box, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were other offerings besides movies. Netflix has television shows and documentaries – National Geographic, History Channel, and so forth. To my big surprise, one of the offerings was the new miniseries, The Kennedys, which Caroline Kennedy and Maria Shriver immediately ordered A&E and The History Channel not to air.

Still, there it was on Netflix. So I began watching and it was very, very good. I don’t know what the big FBI secret about the series is supposed to be that Caroline and Maria didn’t want us to know about their clan. Anyway, the news came out today that the UK Mail had run a series about Jackie Kennedy – how she had a revenge affair with William Holden and how she, of all people, was JFK Conspiracy Theorist who thought Lyndon Johnson was behind the assassination. Having your husband’s brains land in your lap will do that to you, I guess.

Up until this point, apparently no one told Netflix they couldn’t run the series. It’s been running in Great Britain and in Europe, to great – and deserved – acclaim. I was up to Episode 6 of the 8-episode miniseries. I was all set to show my family what all the hub-bub was about. But the series had disappeared. Where it’s title box had been, there was a blank space. “Content not available.”

I was very disappointed, needless to say. Six should have been about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and the president talking on the television. Greg Kinnear is made to have an eerie resemblance to the late president. Katie Holmes is just luminous as Jackie.

The miniseries is very well-done. It seems to be a fair-minded account of JFK. Yes, he’s shown to have flaws, as every other character on television is show today, but he’s not made out to be a monster. His infidelities are handled as discreetly as they were when they occurred. Other than being a philanderer, he comes across as a pretty good guy.

Bobby, in the words of an FBI agent, is “squeaky clean.” Not that he isn’t arrogant and high-handed with J. Edgar Hoover, as every account of Bobby has ever made perfectly clear. Still, he’s there for his brother when he needs him.

Joe Senior is definitely the patriarch of the family, though. From the family compound and their home in Palm Beach, he calls the shots all the way up until Jack takes the oath of office. Even then, he still manipulates behind the scenes. During the election, Bobby frets that they might lose Chicago.

But papa Joe assures him that Jack will win; he’s certainly thrown enough money at the district that they don’t have to worry. Caroline and Maria complain that there are discrepancies in the telling of this story. I wonder how they would know, since Caroline was all of 6 when her father was killed. Maria wasn’t even born yet. Was Caroline’s brother taking notes while he was under his father’s desk in the Oval Office as a little boy that they know what’s true and what isn’t?

Who do they think they’re fooling? Evidently, they’ve inherited their grandfather’s mania for power and think their vast fortune is there to obscure inconvenient (and inconsequential) truths and intimidate anyone who tries to tell any story but the heroic, Camelot myth. The Kennedy’s is about as mild a Kennedy soap opera as you’re ever likely to see. They’ve planted the Kennedy seal of disapproval on this miniseries, but have nothing to say about the totally ridiculous, although very entertaining, JFK.

Greg Kinnear’s portrayal of Pres. Kennedy is right on target. Unfortunately, he and the other actors lacked the one quality the real Kennedy’s demanded – they weren’t made of alabaster marble.


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