Miniseries on Kennedy clan pierces the corroded heart of Camelot
Through the years, so much has been revealed about America’s “royal” political clan, the Kennedys, that we initially wonder why a new miniseries about them has been produced.
Well, we caught the series’ initial telecast last Sept. 19, and quickly got our answer to that key question: There is much more to know, and understand, about the Kennedys than meets even the informed observer’s eye, and it’s important to know the real score about them if we’re to get a real handle on why and how well they ended up running the country and the world.
For starters, it is quickly made clear that the clan’s real “engine” wasn’t JFK, but his “kingmaker” dad. Past accounts have made that abundantly clear, but what the new miniseries adds are the motivational and emotional underpinnings of the driven patriarch’s grand design.
Smarting from decades of being regarded as too crass and “unconnected” to become one of his country’s major power brokers, he proceeds to buy his way to the top, secretly bent on becoming nothing less than the president of the United States.
When political intramurals and machinations prevent him from achieving his fondest dream, he starts grooming his favored son and heir. Tragically, however, the scion dies in combat, so his younger brother, John, is conscripted to step in and do the family proud.
It’s revealed that John suffered from injuries and ailments that made him far from the perfect choice for president—but his flaws are scrupulously kept secret, and paid press people focus voters’ attention more on the illusion of perfection that John and his lovely wife Jackie radiate for the delectation of the viewing and voting public.
If there’s more than just a whiff of “show business” to the political fiction of a new Camelot thus engendered, “blame” it on the clan patriarch’s experience as a movie producer— in fact, it is rumored that his many sexual conquests included several popular film goddesses.
Oh yes, the sexual factor: The miniseries makes it a point to reveal that the patriarch’s “legacy” to his sons extended into the amorous arena as well, with all of them being brought up to believe that profligate potency was practically their birthright, and nothing to apologize for.
So, when John married Jackie, she had to “share” him with many others—and it broke her heart. But this, too, was kept a secret from the public by the press.
One of the series’ most “shocking” revelations to date is that Jackie was so miserable and outraged that she decided to file for divorce—until her father-in-law talked her out of it, and the huge scandal was averted.
Other revelations make “The Kennedys” more than just the latest trot around an overly familiar park. The new series’ edge over past televised accounts is its successful attempt to get to the roots and heart of the Kennedy clan’s shared issues and emotional provenance— even if they’re found to be tragically corroded.
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