March 8, 2012

March 8, 2012

Sorry I Missed It: Mildred Pierce

Despite being a huge fan of British historical drama, I find something a little lacking in its American counterpart. I mean, I watched that John Adams miniseries a few years back and...eh. Our history has lots of interesting aspects, to be sure, but it's somehow not as enthralling. Really, it's the same for any non-UK country; I’m reading a biography of Catherine the Great now and mixing up the Peters and Ivans like you wouldn’t believe. I can reel of the Stuart dynasty with no problem, but give me two Ivans and I have no idea which was the Terrible one.

Le sigh.

I therefore wasn’t expecting much from Mildred Pierce, set in California (-1 for liberal West Coast hippes) during the Depression (-1 for all the dust). It’s basically The Grapes of Wrath, right?

Wrong.

Mildred Pierce is, first and foremost, a story of mother and daughter. Mildred (Kate Winslet) has two daughters. The older daughter, Veda (played in later episodes by Evan Rachel Wood) is a grade-A brat. She treats her mother with unveiled contempt and considers herself deserving of better. You will come to loathe Veda. I did. Everybody did, really, except Mildred. Mildred, in the way mothers often do, saw something of herself in Veda. Veda was going to be the success Mildred never was.

Though Mildred did okay for herself, especially for the standards of the day. She kicked her good-for-nothing husband out and supported herself by taking a job as a waitress. Hard work, combined with phenomenal baking skills, allows Mildred to open a chain of (hand to heart) chicken and waffle restaurants. And she stumbles on a famous actor or something (Guy Pearce) who becomes her on-and-off again lovah. Plus, all those years of Veda’s piano lessons pay off when she becomes a renowned opera singer. Things are going, as they say, pretty swell for Mildred.

Except.

Except her younger daughter’s [spoiler redacted].

Except the fact that her lovah likes living well and expects Mildred to pay for it.

Except Veda’s dalliance with [spoiler redacted].

The fact that I didn’t spoil you by revealing the shocking! Plot! Twists! Shows you just how much I loved this miniseries. I want you to be just as fascinated and horrified as I was when I realized [redacted] was going to [redacted] and that [redacted] and [redacted] were [redacted].

I know Kate Winslet gets award nominations every time she walks to the grocery store, but seriously, she earned them here.

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