31 October 2018 | Dan1863Sickles
Strangely Endearing Mixture of Childlike Snobbery, Titillating Sleaze, and Shrill Feminist Preaching
Everything about this lush mini-series is wrong, oversimplified, anachronistic, and just plain dishonest. Yet the results are strangely irresistible. The cast is what makes the difference. Mira Sorvino, Carla Gugino, Alison Eliot, and Rya Kihlstedt -- four utterly gorgeous young starlets, all of whom showed enormous promise, none of whom really topped their mid Nineties peak.
Imagine Charlie's Angels in corsets and lace, running here and there with fluttering lashes and heaving bosoms, determined to marry well or bust a bodice. And boy, do they ever! You will not believe the amount of leering sexuality in every scene, like a bad Seventies late night soap. Yet it's all so touchingly innocent, as if in every scene you can here the young actresses telling themselves, "This is culture! This is culture! Oscars await! It's CULTURE!"
To balance out the titillating sleaze, of course, the writers are very careful to make every last eligible bachelor an utter bucket of manure. Such a bold choice! Such intellectual daring it must have taken, to cop a fashionable feminist attitude and just slap it right down in the middle of the soft-core porn worship of all those country houses and heaving bosoms and bursting bodices and corsets laced tight. This is a story that preaches with shrill insistence while undercutting its own supposedly egalitarian message with childlike worship of money and social class.
Now when you read an actual, completed Edith Wharton novel, like THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY, you will notice some interesting differences between the actual Wharton genius and the goofiness of this guilty pleasure. Undine Spragg is a pretty girl, and she wants a rich husband. But Undine is never any better than the people around her. In a lot of ways she is worse! When Edith Wharton sends her to Europe the whole point is that she really is a menace to the civilization she wants to conquer. "You want the things we want but you don't understand why we want them," says an exasperated French count.
That kind of complexity is completely absent from THE BUCCANEERS. The girls are awesome just because, hey, they're GIRLS!!!