‘American Gothic’ goes arty with a visual nod to masters
By Robert Rorke
Virginia Madsen (above) strikes a pose similar to Whistler’s mother (below).Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/CBS
One doesn’t expect to see great American works of art referenced in a new television series. But Corinne Brinkerhoff, executive producer of “American Gothic,” is determined to change that.
Her new show, which takes its title from the painting by Grant Wood, is about a wealthy Boston family trying to cover up a scandal when police suspect one of its members may be the “Silver Bells Killer.” Each of the 13 episodes is named after a famous painting.
The titles are well chosen, as Brinkerhoff and her team of eight writers have made the paintings “organically part of the episode.” For example, Wednesday’s premiere is called “Arrangement in Grey and Black” (more commonly known as “Whistler’s Mother”), and based on the 1871 painting by James McNeill Whistler. In the final scene actress Virginia Madsen, who plays devious matriarch Madeline Hawthorne, is posed, with some modifications, as the figure in the painting: seated and seen in profile, against a gray backdrop with one framed work of art on the wall.
“We matched some of our favorite paintings to what is going to happen in each episode,” says Brinkerhoff (“The Good Wife”), who spoke to The Post about how some of the renowned canvases will be captured this season.