Mary Birdsong


Mary Birdsong plays Fionnula Sears in Episode 7 of The Knick.




In case you saw me in episode seven of The Knick this week (“Get The Rope!”) I feel it my womanly duty to post the photo on the left… as a reminder to Hollywood that I’m not an ACTUAL drunk, racist, Irish grandma named Fionnula Sears- but I still like being in her skin. #ewthatsoundedcreepy!  This series really is one of the best things I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of.

But in Slant magazine‘s recap  of the episode, I’m not sure whether to be flattered or insulted by Steve MacFarlane’s review:

As ambulance driver Cleary (Chris Sullivan) strategically keeps the crowd at bay, Sears’s mother (Mary Birdsong) clamors into the Knick, where her son barely continues to breathe.  Drunk, spiteful, and filled with colorful colloquialisms, Fionella Sears is almost too extreme a character to exist within Soderbergh’s fragile ecosystem of class and race pressures. Both funny and genuinely unpredictable, she commands attention whenever she’s on screen, with elder cops and little Irish boys standing at her beck and call.

She offhandedly tells the Knick’s staff that Phinny’s “got more pluck in the little finger than all of ye have got in all your sorry souls,” and the cops all take a swig of whiskey in solidarity, but it feels facile. Phinny dies, and she incites the crowd to “hang every one of them black bastards. Take down every one of ’em fuckin’ darkies. Rip their throats and grind their eyes down to jelly! Make ’em pay for what they done to my Phinny!” To which men in the crowd immediately comply, tackling and beating random black passersby at a moment’s notice. Maybe this is how it really went down in 1900, but the randomly plucked characters and easy incitement feel more like a complex story is being told in a cheap amount of time.”

(Pssst…. Hey, Steve? Mr. MacFarlane? Her first name is spelled “Fionnula” (not Fionella), but don’t worry, she’ll probably be too drunk to notice.)

And here’s a great review of the show by a critic who didn’t like it at first, but is newly converted! Read Emily Nussbaum’s thoughtful addendum to her initial misgivings in The New Yorker.  I, for one, greatly respect a critic thoughtful enough to occasionally don her flip-flops and reverse a decision made too hastily.

(And hey before we part ways in this intimate bloggy space, do this GILF a solid by telling the folks in the Cinemax suits you want more Fionnula Sears shenanigans on season two of  The Knick. Go to their Facebook page here, or tweet at ’em here.  And check out their page on Cinemax’s website here.)

As Fionnula would say: TANX, LUV!

1 Comment

  • Comment by John McCormick (AE3 Veteran) — October 4, 2014 @ 2:40 am

    “CONTEXT” … doesn’t anyone realize and appreciate “CONTEXT” of story-drama-history-character and reality? (Good job, Mary!)

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