Once upon a time James Frey was the subject of intense scrutiny and controversy when it was revealed his Oprah-endorsed book A Million Little Pieces was not a memoir and instead full of fabrications, as was his follow-up My Friend Leonard. As I say in my video review above, the June 22-debuting American Gothic which is exec produced by Frey will only attract controversy or be remembered, if at all, for how unmemorable it is.
The CBS family drama from Corinne Brinkerhoff, Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV, CBS TV Studios and Frey’s Full Fathom Five, where the idea for the 13-episode so-called thriller originated, is grayer than the looks on the faces of the couple in Grant Wood’s iconic painting of the same name.
Also not to be confused with the 1995 series American Gothic, which also was on CBS, this American Gothic tells the tired tale of the wealthy and well-connected Hawthornes of Boston. A family seemingly is shocked by the revelation that their patriarch, played by James Sheridan, may be a serial killer known as the Silver Bells Killer, who went after members of Beantown’s elite in the late 1990s.
And then come the clichés of family secrets, support groups, betrayal, political ambitions, and long-lost siblings returning home in the form of Banshee actor Antony Starr. As the Hawthorne matriarch, Virginia Madsen does the best she can amid the heavy-handed narrative and unintentionally funny writing, but it isn’t enough.
In a summer of new and intriguing shows by the boatful on cable and the streaming services, American Gothic, which also stars Shameless alum Justin Chatwin, Juliet Rylance, Stephanie Leonidas, Megan Ketch and Elliot Knight, just has no traction with which to pull you in.
So click on my video review of American Gothic and check out this piece of seasonal filler — before you forget it was ever on.