Excellent TV Drama

Thursday, May 21, 2020

At last I became interested and engrossed in a Netflix drama, “Rectify”, and am in the second of its four seasons. Some time ago I tried to watch this, a series too slow to get into, and became bored. This time around has been different. Maybe because of these inside days that tie us longer to our televisions.

“Rectify” is written on two levels, one abstract and philosophical, the other social and political. The story’s main character, Daniel, a man in his late thirties, has just been released from prison after spending 19 years in solitary confinement, on death row. As a teen, he’d been convicted for raping and murdering a teenage girl. New DNA evidence has proved Daniel’s innocence, but the lingering problem is that in early police interviews he did confess to committing the crime.

In the story that follows, Daniel, his family, and a small southern community (that mostly still believes he’s guilty) try adjusting to his unexpected release. As we follow Daniel, often there are flashbacks to his prison life, illustrating how he managed to survive. The key was in books sent by his mother, classics that taught him to think beyond prison walls, to turn his impressions and feelings into abstract thoughts that could elevate his very basic existence.

This series reminds me of work by the brilliant American filmmaker, David Lynch, whose films I intend to seek and view in order to make comparisons. Finding Lynch should be easy these days with so many free-fall streaming opportunities.

Offsetting the abstracts in “Rectify” is sheer street-level drama, built around people with fears, jealousies, anger. There’s a huge split between those wanting to help Daniel and those wanting to rid the community of him. A viewer finds pleasure on two levels. One reminds us that philosophies of living may seem more meaningful than life itself. Another grips our guts, makes us hope for Daniel’s safety but keeps us worried about the degree of his innocence, or why he had confessed.

Dear Readers: If you’re not in a big hurry, “Rectify” is a very worthwhile watch. Diana

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