Consider this our weekly excuse to sell you on what I think may be the best drama airing on television right now, Steven Soderbergh’s The Knick. It is the most brilliantly directed show on television right now, the most recent episode dealt with some of the issues we had with the main character’s racism, and here’s five more reasons you should be watching The Knick.
Here’s why I think you should be watching: Because it’s not what you might think it is: A convoluted Soderbergian television wankfest (apologies to our hardcore cinephiles, but I am not a fan of Soderbergh’s least accessible works). It’s essentially E.R set in 1900, which makes it much more interesting than E.R. because so many of the surgeries are experimental. This is where they discovered many of the surgical techniques used today, plus the addition of things like electricity and X-Rays to hospitals brought in new challenges that we simply take for granted today, and it’s fascinating to see all of this come together.
It is bloody, and at times, the main character’s sh*tbaggery can be difficult, but I think of Dr. John W. Thackery (Clive Owen) as kind of the anti-Leslie Knope. A while back, Steven Wilson wrote a piece on Parks and Recreation’s Knope, and how she is a hero without an arc.
Leslie’s static nature is exactly what makes her a hero in a sense. She exists in order to move the lives of others. She lives in order to make the characters around her grow. In that sense, she’s not the hero of the piece, but rather the hero maker. By virtue of being the rock that doesn’t move, she forces others to move around her, thus on a story level, forcing every other character to have a character arc as they move around her. As a character, she turns ordinary people into heroes.
This is how I think of Thackery, only he’s not a good or likable person. But he is a “hero maker”: His terribleness forces others to move around him, turning those ordinary people into heroes.
Truly, we cannot recommend the show enough here. Seek it out. Find it. It’s worth it, and if its within your means, it’s also worth the $12 subscription for three months of Cinemax (or just one month, if you want to subscribe and watch it in its entirety On Demand near the finale).
And if that’s not convincing enough, here’s what the cast looks like in real life (as opposed to their 20th century characters). It’s not as striking as Game of Thrones characters without their beards, Sons of Anarchy characters all cleaned up, or modern-day Downton Abbey actors, but it’s still interesting to see, especially if you’ve been following the show all along.
Clive Owen (Dr. John Thackery)
Juliet Rylance (Cornelia Robertson)
Andre Holland ( Dr. Algernon Edwards)
Eve Hewson (Nurse Lucy Elkins) (SHE IS BONO’S DAUGHTER)
Jeremy Bobb (Herman Barrow)
Eric Johnson (Dr. Everett Gallinger)
Cara Seymour (Sister Harriet)
Chris Sullivan (Tom Cleary)
Michael Angarano (Dr. Bertram ‘Bertie’ Chickering Jr.) (Pictured in Lords of Dogtown)