Olive Kitteridge: HBO Miniseries Premiering Tonight November 2nd

I’m waiting for the dog to die, so I can shoot myself…

That’s Olive Kitteridge, the name of the lead character as well as the title of the new HBO Miniseries which begins tonight (November 2nd) with two one hour episodes, then concludes tomorrow night (November 3rd) with two more.

This mini-series is directed by Lisa Cholodenko and written by Jane Anderson who adapted the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name penned by Elizabeth Strout.

The series stars Frances McDormand as the titular Olive Kitteridge, Richard Jenkins as her pharmacist husband, with John Gallagher Jr as the son, and with Zoe Kazan, Peter Mullan, and Bill Murray in supporting roles.

It is a generational story about Olive Kitteridge and family set in a place called Crosby, Maine. The Opening episode might have been called Welcome to Crosby; the actual title was The Pharmacy. McDormand embodies Olive Kitteridge, a retired school teacher, a practically full-time curmudgeon, a mother, a wife, and she’s even called a witch.

One might say that she’s depressed and angry all of the time. But Olive views depression as a sign of intelligence. She’s been called a school teacher that you hated when you were a student, but have come to view fondly after a suitable number of years has passed by.

As Olive Kitteridge, McDormand calls this role a challenge and the culmination of everything I’ve ever attempted to do professionally. She says: I was never an ingenue. I was never quite pretty enough, and I was always a little left of center which translates into film, and ends up with strong complicated characters, and that’s what women are.

Director Chololenko describes the show as both a comedy and a saga. In her words – It’s about how people are with each other and how life really goes.

It is small town America, and everything we see in the story is really a reflection of what we see of ourselves when we look in our bathroom mirrors every morning. No matter where we live.

Bill Murray appears as Jack Kennison.

Kennison: My wife died in December. Give me a reason to wake up in the morning.
Olive: Haven’t a clue…

According to almost everything I’ve read, this story is satisfying as a TV mini-series on almost any level you can think of. Obviously, as I write this I haven’t seen the show yet. Nor have I been sent a reviewer’s copy by HBO, and so, I am not campaigning for the show or calling it a must see. But I think this is a story in which all of us, what ever our age, wherever we live, can find footing in the narrative and be rewarded by the performances.

Airing at 9:00 PM, this HBO series is slotted against some formidable opposition ranging from Madam Secretary and The Good Wife on CBS, Homeland on Showtime, and NFL Football on NBC.

I’ll have more to say tomorrow.

In the meantime, have a look at the Olive Kitteridge trailer

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