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ATX Television Festival 2015: Rectify

By Shelby

Event photo by Waytao Shing

With its Hey Dude and Boy Meets World reunions, it may seem like the ATX Television Festival trades in nostalgia, but the festival’s programming also does a remarkable job of shining a spotlight on shows that can use the extra attention, be they brilliant-but-cancelled (like Bunheads) or brilliant-but-criminally-underwatched, like SundanceTV’s Rectify. We’re thrilled that ATX continued supporting Rectify by bringing it back for the second year in a row.

We touted this show after its six-episode first season, and the 10 episodes of season two only strengthened our devotion to Daniel Holden’s story, which begins after he’s released from nearly two decades in prison for the rape and murder of his girlfriend when new DNA evidence comes to light that calls his guilt into question. Daniel’s release sends ripples through his family and the small town of Paulie, Georgia, as he is reintroduced to life outside of death row. The results are by turns heartbreaking and hilarious, surreal and all-too-real, tragic and triumphant. It’s a slow-burn of a show, and you’ll watch it with an ache in your chest.

At the Rectify panel, we watched the season three premiere, which airs July 9 on SundanceTV and proves again how masterfully these characters are all shaded with grays. It’s a cinematic show, full of carefully crafted shots, and the silences say just as much, if not more, than the dialogue, all of which makes it particularly well-suited to the big screen. If only we could watch all of the series that way. During the Q&A that followed the screening, actors Abigail Spencer (Amantha Holden), J. Smith-Cameron (Janet Talbot) and Aden Young (Daniel Holden) and executive producer Mark Johnson (Johnson also served as an EP on Breaking Bad, and Rectify has a similar feel) discussed everything from working with series creator Ray McKinnon to dealing with the emotions their characters are forced to access to shooting the show in small-town Georgia, but naturally, much of the discussion focused on the same central question that occupied all of us Serial devotees last winter—”Did he do it?” And like Serial, so far Rectify hasn’t given us an answer. Whether or not we ever discover if Daniel Holden is guilty, I won’t regret a moment spent in the world of this show.

The first two seasons of Rectify are streaming on Netflix.

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