a moment from ‘rectify’

RELIEF. I awoke at 3-something to the sound of rain the other night, and that was my first thought: relief—a kind of freedom from being held too tight by the forces of dry and hot. And then I thought of “Rectify,” the Sundance TV series.

In a moment early in the series (Season 3 has just concluded), the character Tawney is getting to know her long-imprisoned, just-released brother-in-law at a family gathering. What season do you like best?, Tawney asks Daniel, who had been incarcerated for murder, held on death row for 19 years.

She first confesses: She likes the fall, and also rainstorms on a hot summer day—and thunder, too; especially the thunder.

“The place where I was had no windows,” Daniel says. “Just these thick walls surrounded by more thick walls. So I never knew if it was raining, or even heard the loudest thunder.”

“So sad,” is Tawney’s reply.

Indeed, and in fact unimaginable. Disconnection from nature, and its cycles, seems like something that it would be impossible to survive. Maybe that’s part of what fascinates me about “Rectify,” which is critically acclaimed but little-watched compared to many shows that look to be unwatchable. (The Season 3 premiere drew just 224,000 viewers; “America’s Got Talent,” for example, draws 10-million-ish.)

Rectify: To put something right, like rain on dry soil does; or the cessation of heat when we are already wilted. Relief.

watching ‘rectify’

p9797932_b_v7_ac‘RECTIFY’ has been described as hypnotic, as a haiku, as slow-as-molasses and meditative. Yes to all. The cast is exceptional, a compliment that extends beyond the Australian actor Aden Young, who plays Daniel. Two favorites among a perfect lineup: J. Smith-Cameron, as Daniel’s mother, embodies compassion; Johnny Ray Gill as Kerwin Whitman, who occupied the cell beside Daniel before being put to death, is the truest friendship. Season 1 and 2 can be streamed on Netflix; the current season is online at Sundance, or for purchase at Amazon.

(Image and video from Sundance TV.)

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  1. Donna says:

    It’s a great show – wish they had a longer season. Life is not simple for any of the characters – full of real life internal and external conflicts.

  2. Laura P says:

    I LOVE this show. I want to have tea with Daniel’s mother in their living room and tell her all of my problems.

    I think Daniel’s road trip and “lunch with the ladies” at the museum was one of my favorite scenes.

    I just watched this season’s finale and think I might start over again.

  3. Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern says:

    Yes, I felt that same relief last Thursday evening! Yes, I watch Rectify and it is very powerful. I watch it streaming on Netflix and will begin season 2, soon.

  4. Anna says:

    I love Rectify too. I think that the viewership may be low for a few reasons. Some viewers, the America’s Got Talent crown maybe, are not engaged by meditative shows. Other viewers, like my aunt, watch television in the background as filler, and may be able to follow the storyline, but the show’s nuance is lost along with the desire to know what happens next.

    As for me, frustrated by the ever-increasing cable bill and increasing “reality” show pap clogging the schedule, it became easy to just stop our cable. And I mean really stop, as we do not receive even local channels. Everything we watch is via Netflix—no illegal dowloads, no going over to a friend’s house to watch TV, just done. Over $720 a year is saved, and now I eagerly scan my queue waiting for the “New Episodes” banner to appear.

    Maybe this is a trend. Many of the young engineers coming to work at my company have not had cable since they left their parent’s houses because of cost and viewing options. The general consensus seems to be “why start now?” when it comes to cable. I am sure the more contemplative coworkers would be interested in watching Rectify—if they knew it existed.

    The crushing weight of junk TV and the dollars paid for the privilege to be disappointed combined to make what I think broadcasting companies should fear the most: a break in habit. Having cable and watching TV at certain times was a habit that many now fill with something else. And in the case of my family and my coworkers, broadcasters are losing a good crowd of folks who like to be entertained and have the disposable income to buy what they see in the commercials.

  5. Christine says:

    Hi Margaret,
    I had never heard of this show before your post. Sounds very worthwhile. I’ll begin watching it tonite on Netflix. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. Kathleen says:

    I was so excited to open my email from Margaret and see a shout-out re: my favorite tv show, Rectify!! It is a beautifully written, fascinating series, with amazing acting. I sure hope it keeps getting renewed…I worry due to the small viewership. To me, it’s right up there with some of the greats….Six Feet Under, The Sopranos….So pleased to have Margaret write about it…Thanks!

  7. June Carter says:

    I think what Anna says is correct. Unfortunately videos do not do well on my computer, they eventually stall and hum loudly, and I don’t know how to fix them. That is what happened with the scenes you sent. (But, I saw and heard enough to sense why “Rectify” is meaningful to you.)

    I appreciate the poetic and thoughtful and caring sides of you, Margaret. Perhaps I said that before, about another post… Anyway, thank you for linking us to some of the important things of this world.

  8. deb mattin says:

    Love, love, love Rectify. The acting, the writing and the filming are superb – so rare in a TV series! All the characters are interesting and working through issues/struggles like the rest of us – perfectly flawed people. Give us more intelligent TV!!

  9. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    I do not know “Rectify” yet, but it is in our queue on Netflix under “My List” and will debut soon in our living room via Roku. We have also abandoned the super package of TV channels and are down to the very basic basics, most of them being “losers” anyway and seldom viewed. My husband and I are contemplating one of those wall mounted flat antennas that can scoop up regional TV signals. If that works, then we’ll cut the cable cord completely. Their pages of fine print every January explaining why the bill is increasing astronomically make me want to throw up. And to be freed from the mind-numbing barrage of commercials is a worthy goal. We are dedicated Netflix fans, with disks and streaming at our disposal. Visual entertainment is manipulated each evening in just the way we prefer and it does not take 3 hours to watch a 90 minute film.

  10. Kate French says:

    As always, Margaret, you are SO right. Andrew & I are in MT on our way to CA. When I read your post about Rectify I remembered reading all the fantastic reviews & couldn’t figure out why we’d never watched. That’s now been corrected. In the past 2 days we’ve knocked off Season 1 & are totally blown away. Nothing in recent watching memory compares. Thank you so much.

  11. Jacqui Bishop says:

    Since I open your newsletters with such relish for the information they hold, I was thrilled to see a recommendation for a TV programme I had not heard of before. I knew I could trust it!

    It’s fantastic. So well-written and cast. Characters so well-defined. Keep the recommendations coming.

    Thank you,

    1. margaret says:

      How nice of you to write in and say so, Jacqui. Maybe I have a next life as a TV columnist. :) (Kidding, but wouldn’t that be a fun job?)

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