I watched part of “Recount” yesterday but couldn’t stand to watch the whole thing. I won’t go into all the reasons I didn’t like it, but I do want to get on one: the portrayal of Katherine Harris.
To me, Katherine Harris is a really interesting figure. She’s motivated by deeply held religious beliefs, but she’s also clearly a little tyrannical, and a little in over her head, but with some core of shrewdness.
It’s a type of women you come to know well living in the South, the “I’m not a feminist but…” chicks who aren’t feminists, but they want to be in charge, based not on some belief in their own value as human beings, but based on their core belief in their own exceptionalism as women, granted by God. They are not like those other women, thank you Jesus.
I’m not sure that I could have done a better job writing Katherine Harris for Recount, but I watched it thinking that they got her all wrong. They had all of the ingredients right, but somehow all in the wrong proportions. She came off looking like an easily manipulatable fanatic. And not that that’s not true, kind of, but it’s not right.
And it’s too bad, I think. Because she does seem to me to be a really rich person to base a character off of, so particular to a certain place at a certain time, that I was sorry to see them so miss in their characterization of her. And this is not to say that Laura Dern was bad in it.
In fact, I thought she did an extraordinary job with what she was given. I saw repeated hints that Dern got what Harris was about–the precise, almost hypnotized way she put on her make-up, the way she delivered her Queen Esther speech–but I still think the writers didn’t get Harris.