Before I start this post, let me say that Paul Giamatti, who plays John Adams in the HBO miniseries, resembles someone I absolutely despise. And I can count the people that I absolutely despise on one hand. So this is somewhat hard for me to watch and take him seriously, because I keep wanting Adams to get slammed. Thus far, I have not been able to yield to the principles of verisimilitude.
Of course, the series is prescient. I had to laugh when Adams, seated at the Continental Congress with a bunch of blowhards, mutters, "This time, Congress will act!" Yeah, that and a bag of chips will get you an audience with your sitting Congressperson today. As Adams blustered for war, he did sound a bit like George W standing up in front of the UN--the poor Quaker Dickinson arguing that all peaceable means must be exhausted first and Paul Giamatti giving him his best attempt at staggering masculine rage--you did have to at least consider the American Revolution as a possible bit of pretty ugly business--and I say that, full disclosure, as someone who has ancestors who fought in the Revolution.
I did manage to get my husband to turn off the TV before they finished tarring and feathering the poor harbor master in Boston--my daughter was watching. Then I not only had to explain to her that not all of the Revolution was "good" and, furthermore, explain to her what acting was and how they really shoot fight scenes. And that the guy was a great actor because he had convinced her it really hurt to get covered in what was probably Space Slime dyed black.
One of John Adams' kids just said, "I hate the Congress," as his dad is riding away, and my basic response is that, well, times haven't changed much, kid, everybody still hates the Congress.
Anyway, this whole thing is pretty much Masterpiece Theater with better actors and production values--lots of guys hanging around acting pompous, Ben Franklin (whom I just never cottoned to) being an obnoxious lecher.
I am glad we beat the British, though. I'm just not yet convinced by this drama. The most convincing shots so far have been the few remaining spots of the Massachusetts landscape that look like they must have in the 18th century. Those views of our particularly American landscape seem most resonant--what we fought for was our small piece of earth, our ability to inhabit it. Of course, that does bring up the unconscionable things we did to the Indians.
I'll write more about Robert this week--I've not been posting much as my 92 year old grandmother, whom I dearly loved, was taking ill suddenly about 10 days ago and has passed, as the minister of my church growing up used to say, from the life militant to the life triumphant.