`Sordid Lives’: The Most Ruthlessly Realistic Comedy About the South Ever?

Maybe you have to have grown up in the South during the 1960s and 1970s to appreciate “Sordid Lives” but even if you don’t have that particular affliction to deal with, there is plenty to love about this TV show that aired on Logo channel and is currently available on Netflix. The TV show is based on the theatrical film of the same name. Most of the characters survive intact in the translation from big to small screen, albeit with a change in some of the names who play them. Surprisingly, however, such names of some largesse as the incredible Bonnie Bedelia, the extraordinary Beth Grant and Olivia Neutron–Bomb all continue their roles. 

Sorry, I meant Olivia Newton–John.  That was a leftover from that wayward youth that spent way too much time in the 1960s and 1970s with people who bear a strong resemblance to the characters in “Sordid Lives.”  And that’s what this article is really about. 

“Sordid Lives” the movie and “Sordid Lives” the TV show will doubtlessly seem over the top and disengaged from reality to a great many viewers. Even though the show takes place in the late 1990s, many of these characters are stuck in a time warp. Believe me when I say that I grew up with people exactly like the characters in this movie, specifically that played by Bedelia and Grant. The movie and subsequent TV series may take place in Texas, but you can believe that people who really are exactly like these larger than life natives exist in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. Heck, if I scratched my head to spark my memory, I could come up with at least half a dozen names of real life women who could step right into the part played by Beth Grant and not have to do a lick of acting. 

Watching “Sordid Lives” from the perspective of the greater majority of American subcultures is, one cannot help but imagine, probably not far removed from that experienced by the majority of Americans when watching a docudrama about the Kennedy family or that experienced by teenagers today who may come across an episode of  “Father Knows Best.” The difference being, of course, that “Sordid Lives” is absolutely realistic whereas one really does have to question the reality of most docudramas about the Kennedy family and only those suffering some sort of dementia actually think “Father Knows Best” is an accurate reflection of family life in the 1950s.  

Anyone who comes across “Sordid Lives” as a big screen spectacle or as the even more superior little screen prequel needs to understand something immediately: what you are watching is not parody or satire. “Sordid Lives” may, in fact, be the most realistic representation of a certain subculture present throughout the southern United States ever put on film.  

Don’t be scared…just keep telling yourself it’s only a movie or TV show.  It’s a lie, but if that’s what it takes to make you feel better, so be it.