I just finished watching the Netflix original Bloodline and part of me is sad it’s over. I really enjoyed the plot and trying to figure out how Danny dies; plus now that I’ve completed the
season, I have to find another show that sucks me in. The other part of me is a bit relieved it’s over. Bloodline is relationally intense, and for someone who “feels deeply” (as my mom used to say), this show had me feeling all kinds of emotions. For those of you who have watched the show, you may assume that Danny is the one who drove me crazy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s pretty creepy, but the family dynamics and overall dysfunction is what resulted in me speaking out loud to the TV screen.
First – and this sums up a lot of the issues – the Rayburns have the worst boundaries. If I saw Sally (mother) ask John (second oldest son) to communicate a message to Danny (oldest child) for her gain, or Danny tell John to advocate for him while speaking with Robert (father) one more time, I might lose it. No one directly handled his or her own issues. Each family member asked others, and predominantly John, to do the dirty work that he or she didn’t want to face themselves.
John definitely lost it at the end of the show…I mean, the cop kills Danny, the brother he’s been fighting to save the entire season. In John’s defense, Danny was full-on psycho by the end, which we saw unravel as he schemed in threatening John’s daughter. But I also think John felt the weight of carrying the entire family. To feel responsible for everyone else’s stress on top of your own legitimate responsibilities can drive a person to a breaking point. And we saw that with John and Danny on the beach.
Sally Rayburn is also complex, and though she was more of a supporting character for the majority of the season, she played a major role in the dysfunction. As the show’s season neared the end, we got to see more of her history and the reasons for her lack of boundaries with Danny. She was constantly fighting for him, whether to be included in the will, or by allowing Danny to restructure the inn. I really believe Sally was trying to console her own guilt. She blamed herself for nearly leaving her family, for asking Danny to preoccupy Sara as she tried to escape (Sara ended up drowning that day), for telling her children to lie to the police after Robert beat Danny into the hospital. This guilt, much of which is legitimate, clouded her ability to see the depths of Danny’s issues, as well as the ability to foresee the damage he could cause. Her guilt also blurred the boundaries of responsibility: she felt responsible for Danny’s happiness, and therefore she frequently dismissed the legitimate concerns other family members.
And let’s not forget about Meg and Kevin. Both siblings had their own issues, bleeding into their romantic relationships and business decisions. In the end, Meg ended up escaping her life, guilt, and fear by moving to New York. And against all odds, Kevin seemingly found peace as he and his once-estranged wife reunited and found out they are pregnant.
Maybe this show irritates me so much because it feels so real. The struggles that many of us face with guilt, shame, blame, anger, and identity are real. And it’s difficult to watch a family struggle so much to simply stay above water in the midst of a lot of damage. Boodline portrayed this struggle honestly, and in all of its complexities.