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A Rectify Community
Monday 10:00 PM on Sundance Channel
First of, a little bit about my opinions when it comes to television.

I can enjoy shows from every genre. And while I prefer serialised storytelling, I won't say no to a good procedural. I admit that my personal taste usually means that I always give science fiction, horror or supernatural shows priority over say, a courtroom procedural. However, that's not exactly a strict rule. It certainly doesn't mean that I'm not a fan of drama, thriller, mystery or even "dramedy". I watch A LOT of television and I usually give every show a fair chance.

Just to give you an idea, I'll list some shows (of the top of my head) that I've sampled and for the most part, enjoyed. The majority of which I have seen every episode of: Fringe, Lost, Twin Peaks, Orphan Black, Breaking Bad, Criminal Minds, Once Upon a Time, The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Sleepy Hollow, Penny Dreadful, Hannibal, The Good Wife, American Horror Story, Continuum, Supernatural, Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, Arrow, Person of Interest, The Americans, Homeland, Orange is The New Black, The Blacklist, Haven, Sherlock, True Detective and many, many more.
(Yes, I've even seen the entire season of Under The Dome! *shudder*)
Truthfully, the only shows I tend to pass on are sitcoms (which doesn't mean I don't appreciate classics like Seinfeld) and Hollywood "reality" shows.

So as you can see, my taste is quite broad. That doesn't mean that I consider myself a "TVSS" (short for "TV-Show Slut"). In fact, all of the shows I've listed above I have often criticised or had my issues with. Whether it's certain story lines, pacing, acting, characters etc. I don't make excuses when it comes to the flaws and I'm no fangirl who can't admit when a show that I like (or even my very favourite show) is making questionable creative choices or going of the deep end. Even if it pains me to admit it. Which doesn't mean that I'm not a fan. I just try to be objective and therefore I'm usually very honest when it comes to critiquing and discussing the shows that I watch.


Now that you have some idea of my personal tastes and views, let's get to the point.





I want to talk to you guys about Sundance TV's drama Rectify. I'm not going to give away any spoilers and I won't go too much into the plot because @sadiegennis recently wrote a fantastic article about the show (which I recommend you read) in which she covers the specifics like plot, cast etc.
I only wish focus on explaining why I personally like the show and why, regardless of your taste, I think you too should give it a chance.

Anyways, here's the Wiki "gist" of what Rectify is about:
"Daniel Holden was imprisoned as a teenager for the rape and murder of his 16-year-old girlfriend, Hanna. After spending 19 years on death row, new DNA evidence vacates his original trial. He returns to his hometown of Paulie, Georgia. The subsequent adjustments and events in the lives of Daniel, his extended family, and the townfolk are related as a character study in a slowly unfolding Southern Gothic story."


I'd like to start by quoting this great sentence from Sadie's article:

"Rectify's languid hero offers a welcome respite from the cocksure Don Drapers and Walter Whites that currently populate television."

That is just one of the many things I love about Rectify. The main character is portrayed as a man who doesn't fit into a specific character mould. While Daniel Holden is quite relatable, he's not your typical "hero" or "antihero". He's not the macho type nor the wimpy type. He is just a somewhat broken human being you slowly get to know over the course of the first season, without the requirement of a pre-attached label. Those of you who read my comments (Hi @edshrinker and my sister!) know that I'm not really fond of archetypes or labelling characters as this, that or the other. I just don't find it necessary. If I'm going to invest in a show, all I need is to believe that the characters I am watching are real people. And no matter how far out, loud or strange their personality may be, I still want them to be grounded, with shades of grey and of course an actor capable of selling it. Rectify meets those needs and I can tell you that Aiden Young, who plays Daniel, more then sells the performance. He is truly impressive at subtlety and depth. His eyes alone, convey the characters emotions and state of mind in every scene.
The rest of the cast is also fantastic, especially Abigail Spencer, who plays Daniel's headstrong sister Amantha, one of the few people who always believed in Daniel's innocence and who dedicated much of her life to doing everything she can to help exonerate him.





Rectify's
cinematography is hauntingly beautiful and the writing is top notch. A brave, honest and often frighteningly realistic story of struggle, the injustice of the judicial system and the study of every facet and crevice of human nature. I really think it's a show that is accessible to most people. The characters are grounded and even though the story moves at a slower pace then most network shows (Rectify would no doubt frustrate and discourage NCIS or CSI fans!) I personally never found it boring. If anything, I was totally immersed in the story and transfixed by Young's performance. I watched the first season in one sitting. The show never comes across as pretentious or overindulgent. It is unique and deliciously complex without ever being hard to grasp or confusing. There's heartwarming humour and an aura of weirdness. The writers are very respectful to the subject matter and the story is incredibly poignant.
Some viewers might initially struggle with the slower pace of the show, and I can understand that given that most TV shows these days move at lightning speed. Personally, I don't mind heavy, slow paced dramas but the story has to really pull me in to appreciate it and to really get into it. I will admit that I still haven't finished The Wire and that marathoning the first season of Breaking Bad was frustrating and made me want to quit the show prematurely because of the slow-burn nature of the narrative. However the critical acclaim made me stick with it and once I got into it, I can honestly say that I never appreciated a TV show more. Now I look at and rate shows through the hindsight of having experienced Breaking Bad. Which I now consider the benchmark of great television.

So obviously I was keen to eventually check out Rectify due to the "from the producers of Breaking Bad" tagline. Which in this case really isn't just a selling point. Rectify really has Breaking Bad-level quality and production values. And even though it is a vastly different story from Breaking Bad, that same "je ne sais quoi " factor is there. As is the potential to become something really special and truly great. If Rectify's first season is any indication, I'm confident that the show will reach that aforementioned benchmark with ease.


Finally, one of the things I appreciate most about Rectify is just how damn realistic the show is! Watching it really doesn't require much suspension of disbelief. At least not in the way that most shows do. I have followed some real-life prison stories.
Most notably, the case of The West Memphis Three. Damien Echols, who was one of those three men falsely accused of a gruesome crime, has an eerily similar story to that of Rectify's main character Daniel. Like Daniel, Damien Echols spent 18 years on death row and I have followed his post-release story quite closely. I have no doubt that it was an influence for the show. In fact, it often feels like the show is directly based on Echols' experience even though that doesn't seem to be the case. At least not in an "official" capacity. Though it makes one wonder because the shows creator and writer Ray McKinnon is very familiar with Echols' story as his late wife was a close friend of Echols who exchanged letters with him while he was incarcerated. Echols himself wrote a fantastic article about his take on Rectify. And let me tell you, if there's any material that you should read to convince you of watching the show, then his article is it! Don't worry. The article doesn't contain any major spoilers as he only talks about the pilot.
While Echols admits that Rectify is too close to home for him to watch regularly (understandably so), he has plenty of praise for the show and points out a lot of parallels between his story and Daniel's.

For those of you not familiar with Damien Echols.
As I already mentioned, he was one of three teenagers falsely accused of the supposed "satanic ritual" murder of three young boys, in the very publicised "The West Memphis Three" case. Which has spawned many public and celebrity campaigns in support of freeing the men. With countless documentaries, including HBO's three part Paradise Lostand the recent West of Memphis (by Amy Berg), which focuses both on the case and the post release story of the three men. West of Memphis was initiated by Peter Jackson (Lord of The Rings) and his wife, who are only two of the many public figures who campaigned for the exoneration of the men.

Echols has often spoken about his first few months of post prison life. Describing the time as the most scariest, challenging and confusing experience. Rectify is absolutely brilliant at conveying those roller coaster emotions and child-like wonder through Daniel's character.


So even though Rectify is a heavy, slow-burn drama, I highly recommend everyone give it a try. Especially (but not exclusively) cable-drama fans. But even you procedural, action, thriller, mystery, horror, sci-fi or supernatural genre fans. Give it a go! The first season consists of only 6 episodes (available on Netflix). Even though the pilot is a good introduction to the overall story, I urge you all to stick with the show for at least the first 4 episodes before you make your final judgements.
Sure, it might turn out to not be your thing and that's ok. But who knows? You might end up pleasantly surprised and taken in by the shows beauty and heart. I know I was.

Rectify's second season has just started airing on SundanceTV, so you've still got time to catch up and jump in.




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