Several months ago, shortly after Hatfields and McCoys was first broadcast on the History Channel, my daughter asked me if I had seen it. By nature I am usually late to the party when it comes to being in tune with the popular culture. As evidence, I have yet to see a complete episode of Law and Order, and you don’t even want to know what I thought a Pussy Riot was the first time I heard about it.
So I told her no, I had not, and she said, “Well, you should Dad, it’s awesome.”
Her enthusiasm for the show surprised me. In fact, the notion that she had seen the show at all surprised me. Until that moment, I didn’t think she had ever seen a television program that wasn’t on Lifetime or the E network. I saw it as progress in her development as an adult. So I told her I would watch for it in reruns, and then I promptly forgot about it.
A few weeks later, she asked me again about Hatfields and McCoys. I told her I had not seen it yet, and frankly, I was becoming a little annoyed at her persistence. The truth, which I did not share with her, is that I had no interest in the story of the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. I had heard of them, of course, but I think the foundation for my knowledge was a cartoon I saw when I was a child. I have a memory of two barefoot hillbilly’s with long beards taking potshots at each other across a mountain “holler”. I had always assumed the feud was a silly disagreement between backwoods rubes that never caused anyone any real harm, and the thought of watching a three part mini-series about it did not appeal to me at all. But I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I said again that I would watch for it, thinking that would surely be the end of it.
Then, two weeks ago, my cell phone buzzed and I saw she had sent me a text. I don’t know if it’s possible for a text to be “breathless”, but if it’s not, this one was as close as one could get. It said, or maybe, more accurately, it gushed that the History Channel was going to rebroadcast Hatfields and McCoys, and she thoughtfully provided me with the dates and times. Now I had no excuse. I had to watch it. Whether she knew it or not, she had unleashed upon me the same tactics her mother uses with such great success; she had worn me down. I wrote back and told her I would set the DVR to record all three episodes, and this time, I did.
I watched Hatfields and McCoys in three sittings last week, and I have to say, without equivocation, I was completely blown away. I had no idea that the true story behind these two families was so interesting and so deadly, and that it could be portrayed in such a riveting way. I am not a film critic, but if you like incredibly well-written, beautifully photographed, hauntingly scored, brilliantly acted historical drama, you owe it to yourself to watch this show. Record it, if you can, so you can skip over the commercials. You will save yourself about an hour. You won’t be sorry. It’s that good.