In a poignant and important memoir, J.D. Vance tells the story of his Appalachian white working-class life in the context of this year’s angry crude political mood. Futility is the focus in a tale of the generational subculture of poverty made worse by addiction and abuse.
Like Glass Castle and Blood Bones & Butter, Hillbilly Elegy portrays individual triumph over family dysfunction beyond belief. In Vance’s case he makes the miraculous climb to become a Marine, Ohio State grad, Yale Law scholar. Even with all of that, he cannot escape his roots. They remain current in his struggle to overcome bouts of ire at the bleak prospects left to the kin, classmates and community he left behind. Add drug epidemic to the scene as in every small town America today. It puts into sharp focus the reasons for this election year’s desperate yearning for change.
Bad seeds dominate Netflix Happy Valley’s second season. Families in crisis tinged with pure evil and violence in rural Yorkshire, England. Addiction plays its part as well. Repeat the theme with Ray Donovan’s clan. It’s always about family matters.