“I’m just tired.”
The topic is certainly not what you’d think of as “conventional television”, but the show’s underlying themes are still very much playing out in today’s society. This is a miniseries rooted in our nation’s history, a slow burn exploration of the broken political systems running our cities into the ground. It’s a meditation on fear and greed and class and corruption, and although these first two hours are weakened by the initially disparate natures of many of the storylines, they will inevitably come together to (hopefully) deliver something challenging, moving, and necessary.
Near the beginning of the first hour, there’s an exchange during which an offered up “maybe we’ve turned a corner” is met with “Hmm, you think so? We’re talking about Yonkers.” Later on, we’re told that “we’ve been here before with Yonkers”. The point is clear: the issues playing out during this miniseries didn’t just pop up one day on the Ways to Get Our Inhabitants Angry bulletin. These kinds of things are institutionalized and long-lasting, painful and generation-spanning. It simply makes you tired.
At the center of the show is Oscar Isaac, who continues to cement himself as one of my favorite actors. We open with Nick at the height of his political career thus far, an up-and-comer who hands out a bunch of flyers and knocks out the incumbent mayor, Angelo Martinelli. As the hours progress, though, we can clearly see the toll taken on him as he’s battered with anything but the “fun parts” of the job. “It’s a dirty business,” he says, but he also continues to live in it, urging others to “be committed” and telling Mary Dorman that “a leader is supposed to lead.” He’s not a ‘hero’ in the way we normally think of heroes, and it’s refreshing to see that his character is just plain human; he’s not held above anyone else, and he’s just pushing through because this is what he must do.
It all comes down to my favorite scene of the two episodes: the phone call between Nick and Catherine Keener’s Mary Dorman. It connects the main character to the opposition, taking us outside the confines of the city council as two people come face to face with the harsh reality of the situation. None of this can be solved by an angry crowd yelling nonstop during city council meetings. In fact, none of this may ever be solved, but at least you can take little steps when you just communicate. That’s easier said than done, but it’s worth trying.
Part 1 Grade: B
Part 2 Grade: B+
-We’re introduced to quite a few people outside of Nick, and while their storylines haven’t completely developed or tied in yet, I’m expecting them to all come together in some way. I’ll expand more on those stories in the next two weeks.
– “It’s just politics, Vinni.” “It’s addictive is what it is. Once you get that taste in your mouth…”
– “They can’t blame you.” “Right…?” *CUE ANGRY MOB*
-I’m really liking Alfred Molina and Jon Bernthal in their roles. They’re fun to watch.
-I hate typing out Wasicsko.
Photo credit: HBO, Show Me a Hero