The life of J.F.K. is one of political legend, youthful, passionate, and charismatic, whose short administration was mostly focused on foreign policy, and igniting the passionate spirit that defined the 60s, countless decades after his assassination. In 2011, an eight-part miniseries captured the story of the man, his family, and the stories that surrounded them all, from the facts to the greater legend, in its retelling of the saga of The Kennedys.
From his early career, Joseph P. Kennedy dreamed of his bloodline inhabiting the Oval Office. After circumstances curtail his father’s political career, Joseph focuses on his efforts on seeing his son, Joe, elected. Yet, the outbreak of W.W.2., and his death, shifted focus to the other son J.F.K., from underhanded tactics to get him into congress to his eventual presidency. The show then highlights the highs and lows of the administration, from the Bay of Pigs invasion to race relations in the early chapter of desegregation. While focusing on some of the more sensational stories that surrounded his presidency, the drama in the Oval Office and around is not to be missed.
The primary focus here is on Jack Kennedy, although all the family is depicted: from Joe until his death, Bobby, and his involvement in his brother’s administration as both his Attorney General (and in some cases his fixer) until his fateful campaign in 1968. Of course, it would be remiss not to mention Greg Kinnear’s performance as Kennedy himself, whose performance evokes the legendary statesman without going too far into a parody, as many performances tend to do. Kate Holmes does a lot in portraying the First Lady, Jackie Bouvier. Along with British actor, Tom Wilkinson, portraying the patriarchal figure of Joseph P. Kennedy, makes for a collection of fine performances all around.
With all works of fiction, accuracy is something to strive for, but can never be fully achieved. The Kennedys more often than not chooses to print the legend more times than printing the undisputed fact. The eight parts cover such debated topics as Kennedy’s involvement with Sinatra (and some criminal underworld associates) are just some of the more sensational topics. Along with the alleged relationship with Marilyn Monroe (and her untimely demise, possibly at the hand of the family) fill the eight-episode collection with multitudes of historically based drama. If you don’t treat it as an absolute recreation of the events, and more of a heightened tour filled with the administration’s high and low points, you might be in for a fun, and in some cases, informative ride.
The Kennedys combines the right quantities of historical fact and drama, to make an entertaining mix, equating to a whistle-stop tour of the political dynasty in its peaks and valleys. If approached as entertainment, like other certain fictional depictions of historical characters, you can probably get a lot out of it, and enjoy some fine performances from the likes of Greg Kinnear, Kate Holmes and Tom Wilkinson. Despite its handling of the facts, The Kennedys makes for a political drama that can almost be enshrined in silver.
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