Now there’s a title I know I’ve used before but hey ho, the best ones are worth recycling, especially when an anniversary comes up. For today is the Ides of March, made famous by the assassination of Julius Caesar as retold by Shakespeare, and no-one will ever forget that line the Sybil spoke. By contrast I’ve never managed to get into my head what exactly the Ides were and how they differed from the Nones and the Calends, but I can’t say not knowing has made an appreciable difference to my life.
Last night I was bored, being in that liminal state where the brain is active but the body is still recovering and hence only capable of sitting in front of Netflix while a series unrolled before my eyes, pausing only to – well, hit the pause button for intervals such as meals and going for a pee. It was a pretty good series though, and one I’ve seen before; The Assassination of Gianni Versace with the added attraction of imagining, between scenes, having an outfit designed by him to wear to the Nobel ceremony when I am awarded the Prize for literature (it’s an ensemble in bright colours, mainly blue, of trousers and jacket; and wearing it feels as though Versace has seen into my very soul. In case you’re interested.)
Well, once Versace had been dispensed with and his killer destroyed, it was time to turn to the latest episode of MotherFatherSon, a series whose squished-together title does not, in itself, bode well. I ummed and ahhed about even bothering with this but in the end sheer dumb curiosity won out. Oh dear. Well, I suppose it has a weird sort of entertainment value, but other than that it’s quite bewildering. Max, the ‘Father’, is an unreconstructed media-moghul-arsehole; his divorced wife a garland of all virtues and their son who was last week rushed to hospital after a car-crash and given what looked like trepanning but turns out to be an operation to install some kind of cardboard flap in his head following a stroke, is comatose in hospital.
Things emerge jerkily: there’s a long flashback to the couple’s divorce and the Father’s gaining custody of the Son by devious means; this is barely distinguishable from a scene with Father’s new partner. Meanwhile a somewhat batty woman comes to the Father with a proposal to make Britain great again, sounding like Mary Whitehouse aspiring to be Donald Trump. It’s hard to take her seriously or even to know quite what she’s saying but in spite of this one of Father’s advisers warns him that she’s very dangerous. Really?
Meanwhile Son stirs from his coma, Mother has a night with her homeless man (whom she doesn’t seem to want to help, just sleep with) and leaves him alone. He unaccountably has a fit when she leaves and breaks something which seems to be significant, though I couldn’t see what it was: I guess if you have a 96-inch TV you probably could. She rushes to the hospital where Son is in the process of telling a nurse we’ve never seen before that he ‘did’ her phone and knows who she f****d last night. This news fails to surprise or shock her; in fact it barely seems to get through. Enter Mother, whereupon Son grabs her, says he wants to die, pulls out his transfusion needle and clamps his mouth to her breast.
And… cue credits.
What the hell? MFS seems less a cast of characters than a collection of random isotopes pinging off the walls of some experimental chamber. It makes no more sense now than it did last week, and feels like something written by Martians after watching a few TV dramas and with only the vaguest idea of how human beings actually behave.
Anyway, here’s the link. If you dare.
PS Most reviewers seem to agree with me, though the Guardian kinda likes it.