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This year I discovered the TV series ANIMAL KINGDOM.

I was riveted from the start.

I watched the Australian movie it is adapted from.

This series is as wonderful a riff on that movie as is a Miles Davis riff on MY FUNNY VALENTINE. It takes us places we never thought we’d go while at the same time always keeping tight with the source.

This week in the Season 4 Finale the boys have learned their mother (and grandmother) Smurf has left them next to nothing in her will.

Faced with the fact they are totally up the creek without a paddle the boys resolve to do what they’ve got to do to stay alive which, in this is not robbing a bank or a convenience store but does involve committing a crime.

Pure genius.

It may look like Mama has said to her children, “Screw you,” which would totally in keeping with the surface view of this character Ellen Barkin has played so perfectly for 4 seasons.

But…as we learn in this episode there was a lot more happening beneath the surface of SMURF than most, including her kids knew (and that includes her abiding and deep love for each of them–including her grand kid).

What she did was give her children no opportunity to sit, mope and fall apart (as so many kids do after the death of a strong parent).

By episode’s end the boys have learned to think for themselves (something only 2% of the world’s population does).

The producers and writers on this series have clearly thought through what they are doing. Their job is to hook the viewer so that we come back next season.

They’ve hooked me.

More parents should do as Smurf did. Leave the kids next to nothing. Force them to take care of themselves or die.

This show reveals everything that’s wrong with the world while at the same time serving up the cure.

While many have voiced their displeasure at the addition of BONES star Emily Deschanel to this series I look forward to seeing more of what she has to deliver. She has perfectly nailed the haunted look I see in women who are living in Hell looking for a way out knowing in their heart there isn’t one.

I have endeavoured to say as little as possible about this episode so as not to ruin it for others yet to experience it.

The right choices were made.

That’s the finest praise we can give.

I’m going to miss Ellen Barkin as she has been such a powerful presence but powerful presence or no we all gotta go.

This mama took care of her kids.

People tend to forget we are animals, that we live in an ANIMAL KINGDOM.

This series is a healthy reminder of that.

My Dad gave me nothing but trouble growing up.

The first time we got really drunk he apologized for not having given me the things fathers usually give their sons.

As a kid I envied those boys whose parents lavished gifts upon them.

Then I saw what happened to those boys down the road. The boys I had envied had become men with no strength.

I said to my Dad, “You gave me something better.”

He said, “What was that?”

I replied, “Strength.”

Smurf raised strong kids.

America needs more like them.

–Reg Hartt 2019–08–21.

Animal Kingdom – 413 618500

Ellen Barkin. Someone please bring this woman back to TV in a role as far removed from Smurf as possible. There’s too much talent in that body that not to employ it is a crime far worse than anything her character Smurf has done.



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