“The Kennedys” might be guilty of playing fast and loose with history in places, but as I say in my review, it’s biggest crime is being lousy.
So to read the New York Times’ coverage of the eight-hour miniseries — in which writer Dave Itzkoff compares this over-inflated dreck to “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” — simultaneously made me laugh and cringe:
Arriving on television shortly after an Oscars race between “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network,” movies that put their own spin on real-life events, “The Kennedys” employs many of the same narrative devices. In chronicling the presidency of John F. Kennedy, it compresses time, consolidates characters and invents dialogue for moments never recorded by history’s pen.
Um, yes, they’re all works based on fact, but egad, any similarity ends there. You’d be just as accurate — or enlightening — to say they’re all in color.
That was only the second most-objectionable part, however, of the story, which again goes through the motions of identifying the political affiliations of the producers — how Joel Surnow is an outspoken conservative, but Stephen Kronish is a liberal. (Both worked on “24,” which is appropriate, since I felt my life ticking away while I watched.)
Since when does it say that party allegiance should play a role in whether a writer or director has a valid perspective on such a story? That’s the same bogus trap, frankly, that was used to tar a much better production, “The Reagans,” which was painted as an attack on Ronald Reagan (it wasn’t) strictly because the producers were self-professed liberals. (An even bigger source of damnation and horror was the fact that star James Brolin’s wife is — gasp — Barbra Streisand.)
This is strictly a political construct, one that those with a committed agenda use to undermine projects that offend them. But just because political hacks buy into a premise doesn’t mean that journalists must, unless they’re just being lazy.
Meanwhile, in case you’re wondering what the History channel — which punted on televising “The Kennedys” after ordering it — will be airing on April 3 when the show premieres, here’s the lineup: “Ax Men,” “Swamp People” and “MonsterQuest: Lizard Monster.”
See, that’s it — they were soooooooooooo committed to history, they couldn’t air it.