The Kennedys: Sex, lies and Catholicism

This series has not received glowing reviews, but I wanted to see it anyway. I’m from a large, marauding Catholic family prone to feuding and perhaps as a consequence, I enjoy portrayals of others (albeit vastly more wealthy, powerful and stylishly dressed). Plus I was interested in finding out more about the Kennedy family than just the Marilyn Monroe and grassy knoll conspiracies, and watching this is an easy way to do it (too bone-idle to read a book? Why yes, that would be me). Plus The Kennedys features the excellent Tom Wilkinson in the role of patriarch, Joseph, and Greg Kinnear (used to love watching him in Talk Soup) as JFK. I’m less keen on Katie Holmes, but I guess if Jackie K was a simpering airhead, she’s got that down perfectly. So I caught up with the first two episodes on iPlayer.

You can see from the floaty Stars and Stripes, West Wing style opening credits (same composer I’m sure) that this is an expensively made series. I thought I read somewhere that it cost $30 million, but there was a struggle to get it shown in America. It certainly reveals uncomfortable truths about the hugely powerful and iconic Kennedy political ‘dynasty’. We see the sinister control imposed on his family by the ruthlessly ambitious and domineering father, Joseph Kennedy. We also see how single-minded he has to be to get the first ever Catholic voted President of the United States, and he does this by means of some dirty political wheeling and dealing. Despite seeing him suffer terribly at the death of his beloved son Joe, he is not a likeable figure and his causes do not make comfortable viewing. Many Americans were pro-appeasement with Hitler of course, but he went further and actively campaigned against US intervention during World War Two.

JFK seems to have picked up on daddy dearest’s casual attitude to fidelity, and we see plenty of evidence of his compulsive womanising whilst Jackie bears his children, takes a ton of tranquilizers, smokes and feels humiliated. But, as someone who has experienced back problems in my life, his boundless appetite for sex puzzles me. Who in the world, suffering serious back pain, would want to do that? Incomprehensible. Unless the sexual acts were more along Clinton-esque lines, or the painkillers, of which he takes enough to fell a horse, are really that effective. None I’ve ever taken have been. Perhaps I need a better supplier. Anyway, I digress.

In short, I’m enjoying this and will carry on watching it. There are six more episodes to go. Golden son, Joe, has been killed. JFK is now in the White House, with Bobby in his cabinet, albeit it reluctantly. We’ve not see Marilyn yet, but we will. It’s fine so long as I grit my teeth and take a few Valium along with Jackie Kennedy during the drippy Katie Holmes interludes.

Posted by Inkface

The Kennedys on DVD


Filed under Drama

5 responses to “The Kennedys: Sex, lies and Catholicism

  1. pauseliveaction

    My lord, the first episode was dull. I thought it would be stylish and dramatic, like the film ‘Bobby,’ but it was like being shouted at by a tedious history teacher.

    I suppose it could have perked up in ep.2, but I can’t be bothered to find out. Anyway, I know how it ends.

  2. inkface

    I can understand that reaction. But I do love telly about troubled families, which explains why I’m doggedly watching the current series of Brothers and Sisters, despite the terrible absence of the fragant Rob Lowe and the fact that, it has less jumped the shark, than chopped it up and eaten it as sushi.

  3. Velocity Girl

    Good work Inky, was umming and aahing about this but think you’ve persuaded me to iPlayer it! Despite what appears to be the dreadful casting of Katie Jolmes as Jackie O. Am trying to think who should have played that role – and oddly can’t think past Catherine ZJ.

  4. mark

    A truly good powerful drama in my opinion with great attention to factual details.

  5. jocjoc

    having seen the whole show i now undertand why it was not shown in the US. Pure sentimentel clap trap
    Was Tom Wilkinson playing Joe Kennedy or Hanibel Lecter?

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