The History cable channel pulled off a terrific feat this week, airing the most massive, highest-rated miniseries in basic-cable history, HATFIELDS & MCCOYS. And it was a damn fine, mighty entertaining three night, six-hour production that made history seem stranger than fiction. For instance, I had no idea so much of the Hatfield/McCoy feud was tied up in state’s rights issues!
The feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys is one of those American stories that has become almost mythical; it’s a shorthand for two groups who don’t like each other so much it practically reaches a molecular level (think Yankees vs. Red Sox), so perhaps the greatest feat of this miniseries was to bring the story back down to Earth and make the McCoys and Hatfields human beings. But the rivalry loses none of its brobdagnigian proportions; in fact, the truth makes the battle somehow even huger, because it really happened.