Reformed Grits

John Adams
July 10, 2008, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Film

I just wanted to mention this HB@ miniseries.  Not that I’m endorsing it, mind you, but I thought it was worthy of bringing up.  When the husband and I see a movie (or miniseries for that matter) that we enjoyed but that has some unsavory stuff in it, we always say we enjoyed it… but can’t recommend it.  Such was John Adams.  Now before you get a little crazy on me about having “that stuff” in my house– we got this series on Netflix.  I thought it would be educational and when Jojo and I saw it advertised on another channel we immediately bit on it.  I was thrilled to know I could get it on Netflix so I popped it to the top of our que and within a few days we got our first DVD. 

There are 7 parts of the series and 3 DVDs.  I originally thought it was be good to add this as it was at a time that Mr. Grits was having to do a lot of studying for school and I imagined me and my children–at least the older ones– sitting around enjoying it on nights he was “tied up.”  (It ended up that he, a history buff, watched it with us. )

Yes, well, that was until about halfway or less through the first episode when a man was “tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail.”   Did you know when they did this, in real life, the person was stripped nekkid?  You know how I know this?  Because they did it in the movie as well.  Let’s just say my 11 year old daughter got more educational value out of that scene than I bargained for.  Yes, I’m talking we saw the whole frontal shootin’ match.  I was absolutely floored.  I suppose, what was I thinking for bringing something from HB@ into my house, but I didn’t expect that.  Did I mention I was naive

There were a couple of instances of “four letter words” but they were often so rushed through or spoken with accents that my kids didn’t get them. 

Let me back up. 

We did continue to watch the movie with only our oldest son and occasionally oldset daughter, after the nudie experience.  Although I thought it was gratuitous and unnecessary, I explained to my older children that we would be on the lookout for this in the future and be more careful but that it was not portrayed in a lascivious way, but in a way that was actually historically founded.  No, really, look it up; they did strip them  I think they could have portrayed the idea of it without actually showing it but now we were on our guard. 

So we foraged ahead.  It really was very interesting, although I’m sure it was revisionist in areas. 

I don’t think this is too “spoiler”ish but in one scene when John and Abigail are re-united after a long separation overseas, there came a scene where they started tearin’ in to each other but once we saw where this was going we “skipped” it on our DVD player so I don’t know if anything actually happened or not.  It was private and should have stayed such.  Another scene where the men in the room held couch pillows in front of their faces and look at each other, as is the tradition in our family in such circumstances, is a medical scene where a woman who had breast cancer was “bared” for a surgery to lop it off.  I know, heinous.

And speaking of such scenes, there are two very gruesome scenes– one involving maritime war and the other was this surgery scene which made all our stomachs turn.  Did I mention this was in a “pre-ether” era?  Horrific.  Barbarous.  But again, likely historically accurate.  (I didn’t research anything regarding this, however.  The DVD version has a “pop-ups” type scenario that provides historical information as you watch the movie, if you choose this option.  ) 

So now that I have talked about all the hideousness that is John Adams let me tell you what we loved about it.  We loved the faithfulness of John to his “dearest friend” Abigail despite circumstances providing opportunities to stray (she was his wife, but he referred to her as his dearest friend.)  We ached when unforgiveness and bitterness between fathers and sons destroyed lives, yet we were grateful for these teaching opportunities with our own children.  We relished John Adams’ championing of generational thinking when he told the French who asked if he studied music and art, (basically), “No, I study law so that my sons can study law and government, so that their sons may study music and art.”   We adored the way John sought wisdom from his wife, and took it.  It was great to see the way they balanced each other out. And we loved seeing history unfold through the eyes of this arrogant, flawed man in history.

There were very many things that brought us back night after night until the series finished last evening for us.  But most of all, the plethora of opportunities to pause the movie and talk with our kids about situational ethics, the enlightenment and its effect on the men who framed our Constitution and Declaration, thinking generationally and how and when this disappeared from modern thought, fidelity, and just so many, many other things. 

So on one hand I can say we thoroughly enjoyed this series, yet we hesitate to recommend it. 

If you decide you’d like to watch it but would like some ideas about when you might need to put a couch pillow over your face and look at someone else in the room, email me and I’ll be glad to give you some tips.