Here's the most fitting aspect of Bonnie & Clyde being broadcast simultaneously on Lifetime, History and A&E: Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow would have loved it.
Well, Bonnie more than Clyde, if the narrative is accurate. There's nothing Bonnie wanted more than people knowing who she was. The notoriety granted Bonnie and Clyde through their deadly crime spree and media glorification in the "Dirty '30s" has lasted for 80 years and counting.
Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger star as the title characters in Bonnie & Clyde, a four-hour mini-series that airs over two nights, Sunday and Monday. The unique three-channel attack is the result of Lifetime, History and A&E sharing ownership interests in the U.S. (in Canada, both Lifetime and History are owned by Shaw Media).
Interestingly, all three channels get their due with Bonnie & Clyde. There are parts of it that fit snugly on Lifetime, parts that fit snugly on History and parts that fit snugly on A&E. Fittingly, though, the story starts frivolously and gets significantly darker.
Grainger, who you may recognize from her role as Lucrezia on The Borgias, provides a spellbinding twist on Bonnie, the Texas girl from a decent home who dreamed of fame. When fame through traditional means eluded her, she hooked up with a low-level criminal named Clyde, and they brought out the best and worst in each other.
At one point in Bonnie & Clyde, Hirsch's Clyde character astutely ponders the times. Maybe if it hadn't been the Depression, things would have been different. Maybe if it hadn't been the era of the celebrity gangster, he and Bonnie would have taken a different path. But as it stood, he was drawn to the excitement and the money, while she was drawn to the danger and, coldly, the attention.
Bonnie's mom Emma, played by Holly Hunter, is baffled by her daughter's behaviour. But one man who feels he understands Bonnie and Clyde all too well is former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, played by William Hurt. Hamer is lured out of retirement specifically to track the Barrow Gang.
Other notable cast members include Lane Garrison as Clyde's brother Buck, Sarah Hyland - who plays Haley on Modern Family - as Buck's wife Blanche, and Elizabeth Reaser as P.J. Lane, a newspaper reporter covering the story. At first P.J. enjoys the career advancement her stories about Bonnie and Clyde provide, but when people start getting murdered, she comes to wonder if she indirectly has contributed to the carnage. As Hamer gazes at a grisly crime scene, he disgustedly says to P.J., "How you gonna perfume this, Miss Lane?"
Eventually there wasn't enough perfume in the world. Bonnie and Clyde were romanticized both in their lifetimes and subsequently, but they were no joke. What started as a rebellious lark turned deadly.
This new version of Bonnie & Clyde puts an intriguing twist on how it all ended, but the result remains the same. They don't just have fame. They have three-channel fame.