“Quarry” Sends Mixed Messages about Vietnam Vets

You would think that a drama about a Vietnam veteran returning home and having difficulty reintegrating into society would be a big hit with Vietnam era veterans. However I’m concerned that “Quarry“, a new series from Cinemax, might be sending mixed messages that will upset some vets.

Set in the 1970s, this dark brooding drama follows the story of Mac Conway returns from his second tour of duty with his friend Arthur. They are met at the airport by protesters shouting things like “monsters” and “baby killers” because his unit was accused of massacring instant women and children in the Vietnamese village. He discovers that the protesters are not the only ones were not happy to see him back. He can’t get a job as a swim coach in the local high school because it would be controversial to hire someone possibly involved in such violence. Even members of his own family seem leery of him.

He is approached by a strange man calling himself “The Broker” who offers him thousands of dollars for his services as a gun for hire. Basically a hitman. As he’s trying to regain his identity as a “normal person” he summarily rejects the offer. Unfortunately his friend Arthur decided to take the money and do the job. Mac tries to talk him out of it saying to him “If we do this then we really are the monsters they claim we are.” Arthur is not persuaded so Mac file is him as backup on his first assignment. When that assignment goes horribly wrong Mac is drawn into the business reluctantly.

So for the first 40 minutes or so of the opening episode we see an insightful look into the life of the Vietnam veteran who struggles with being connected to an unpopular war. But it’s pretty obvious that most of the series is going to be about him becoming a hitman and working for this mysterious character. And as he told his own friend, this proves we really are the monsters they claim that we are. So what is the message? Are we supposed to feel sorry for him lady has no choice but to kill people for money? It looks to me like the entire show is going to reinforce the negative stereotypes of Vietnam-era soldiers.

The stars are know when you’ve ever heard of. The acting is adequate. The title of the show comes from the fact that Mac meets up with the Broker in a quarry and the broker decides that “Quarry” should be his nickname. Because this is Cinemax you’re going to see graphic violence and R-rated nudity and sexual situations. It doesn’t appear that this is typical Cinemax softcore. It’s just that they don’t hold back in showing you everything where there is sex or violence.

I’m probably going to give it one or two more episodes to see where it goes in to see if it ever makes up its mind as to whether we should be sympathetic towards Mac or fear him or both. For now I’m rating it on the low end of “could be watchable”.

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