Who knew a funeral could make me smile?

Commentary By Kate Brown

Zach’s death was sad. Zach’s funeral was sad. The whole story is sad. And, yet, I couldn’t stop smiling through my sobs.

Can I really be that callous?  True, there are characters that could die and I wouldn’t cry. Let me rephrase: I wish a few characters would die just so I could smile at their funerals.  I won’t list them, because the list is a little fluid.

Six months ago, Liza’s death would be a happy blip on my TV screen. Now, I view her as an essential part of AMC. She doesn’t mind standing up to the “good” people of Pine Valley.  The town loathes her but she doesn’t go into hiding.  That’s admirable. Damon is the only one on her side. Of course, now that I like Liza, she probably will die soon. (Pure speculation.)

Sorry. Got a little off track for a moment.

Back to why I was smiling.  Why? Because the story demonstrated what has made AMC successful over the years. The human connection.

I am a bit of a voyeur (in a healthy way or, maybe not). The more human soap characters behave, the more I want to see them on my TV every day.

True, few of us have lives that resemble anyone’s life in the Valley.  Their lives are different than ours but their feelings shouldn’t be.

When everything is in sync, the emotions on screen should be palpable. It doesn’t matter if the emotion is love or hate or somewhere in between. It doesn’t mean we viewers would feel the same way in any given situation. What it should mean is that we recognize the emotion. We believe the emotion. We understand why the character is feeling that emotion.

I don’t always feel that way when watching AMC. That disconnect saddens me.

That’s why this Zach story made me smile. The writing, the acting and the directing were in perfect sync. I understood each person’s emotion. The characters were behaving, well, were behaving in character. I, mean, really, is anyone surprised that Greenlee has made this all about her needs?

It brought out the best in some characters and the not so best in others. Ryan with Spike is always a joy. Ryan did his best to help his son through a difficult, confusing time.  At the funeral Ryan talked about Zach being a good father. Ryan did his best to make sure that the focus stayed where it belonged, on Kendall and her boys.  Even though my dislike of Ryan is well documented, I felt connected to him. For the first time in a very long time, I wanted to see what Ryan would do or say next. Color me shocked.

Everyone trying to be supportive but not knowing the right thing to say was touchingly realistic.  Griffin handled it best by saying, “I’m sorry.” Just the type of  thoughtful thing that makes me curious about him.

Opal talking about Myrtle and Zach was wonderful. Their friendship was one of the best ever on AMC.  I could picture them sharing a celestial martini, or a Bloody Mary, or just a shot of single malt scotch.

Tad, oh, Tad, how like you to insert yourself into your speech. I will just pretend it came from funeral speaking awkwardness.

Erica isn’t quite Mona but she, too, is a wonderful mother. (If we overlook a few things-like sex with Ryan.) I have always said that Erica’s small moments show Susan Lucci at her best.  The way she held back tears while comforting Kendall was a quicktears moment for me.  When Erica said, “I’ll be here for you. Whatever you need” I believed her. Now if she just could get over the “Grandmother” thing.

What can I say about Alicia Minshew except that she was exceptional? I hope AMC realizes that having Kendall grow up will make her more interesting, not less.

One funeral thing puzzled me. Why was Jack’s hair slicked back? Was it a tribute to The Sting or, perhaps, to Boardwalk Empire? Hair artists, I beg you not to do that again. Walt Willey is a fine specimen that doesn’t need messing with.

While we’re talking about Mr. Willey, I’d like to praise him once again. (One could say that my constant praise is a bit stalker-ish. How silly. I am no more a stalker than I am a voyeur.)

Jack didn’t have to say anything at the funeral. That didn’t stop us from knowing what he felt. Today, Monday, presents another example. After Erica asked what he had done to help Kendall, he said nothing but his face crumbled. Without dialogue we knew that Jack realized that he had done nothing to help Kendall. Kendall, the woman he wears he loves as much as his own daughters.

Me, being me, has the need to find something, anything, to criticize. And there was something. The Caleb/Asher scenes.  Maybe they were supposed to show, oh, I don’t know what they were supposed to show. They were intrusive.

I don’t know who wrote the funeral scenes. All I can say is “Thank You”!

And I think Zach is “dead” the way David was “dead.” I hope it’s not hoping in vain.

Thank you for reading what I write.

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