Conscience of the Conservative


What happens when a conservative Republican ex-president, who has been out of office for more than two decades, decides he’s completely out of fucks to give, and starts looking at the damage his policies caused?

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This is the premise of Epix’s TV series Graves, which began airing last year. Somehow I’d not heard of it. I’m guessing I was too busy paying attention to real politics. Or perhaps their PR just sucked. But either way, I’m glad to have found it now..

Nick Nolte plays the titular character, who, it is implied, was a two-term Republican president that came along after Reagan but before Clinton. He’s now retired and living in New Mexico, and is becoming very unhappy with his life. After a confrontation with former New Mexican governor Bill Richardson, he starts looking at the way his time in office is being remembered. He starts to realize some of the consequences that were experienced by the American public when he did things like cut cancer research, “get tough” on illegal immigration, or speak out against gay marriage.

He looks at these things with the distance of time and wisdom and doesn’t like what he sees. So he starts acting up and speaking out. As this is going on, his wife is being courted by the Republican establishment to run for the Senate, his daughter is going through a divorce, and his estranged son has returned from service overseas.

To a great extent the series is a liberal wank-fest. We all want to have someone like Bush 41 or W admit that they were wrong in what they believed and fought for. We want to have a moment where they say, “Yeah, I fucked up, and shouldn’t have done X, Y, or Z.”

But the show does this liberal wank-fest in a very entertaining way. Nick Nolte is absolutely magnificent as the main character, and Sela Ward is fantastic as the former First Lady. The rest of the cast is spot-on, as well, and there are many cameos by the likes of Bill Richardson, Rudy Giuliani, Barney Frank, Michael Steele, and others.

If you’ve got a hankering for an enjoyable diversion of a political series, do check this out. It isn’t quite as sharp as Alpha House, but it’s still very good. You can find it through Epix’s channel on Sling, and possibly your cable provider. It’s also available on the various streaming services. Vudu has the first two episodes for free, and the series as a whole is only $20 through them. Not bad!