Film & TV

Hatfields & McCoys (2012) – A Gothic Hillbilly Feud

Hatfields & McCoys is a 2012 American three-part television miniseries based on the Hatfield–McCoy feud produced by History channel. Each episode aired for two hours on May 28, 29, and 30, 2012. The series portrays the grimness of this Southern Gothic hillbilly feud.

hillbilly feud
The McCoys

The rivalry between the Hatfields and the McCoys is one of the oldest and best-known family feuds in American history. This miniseries, featuring a cast led by Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the family patriarchs, tells the story of the feud that nearly launched a war between Kentucky and West Virginia. Devil Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy were close friends until near the end of the Civil War, when they return to their homes — Hatfield in Kentucky and McCoy in West Virginia — to increasing tensions and misunderstandings that quickly lead to all-out warfare between the clans. As hostilities grow and outside forces join the fight, the states where the families live are brought to the brink of another war as the feud makes international headlines, the states’ governors clash and the U.S. Supreme Court eventually intervenes.

hillbilly feud

Although the story is set in the Appalachians in West Virginia and Kentucky, the miniseries was shot in Romania, just outside Brașov with the Carpathians standing in for the Appalachians.

Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times stated about the series:
“Although deftly nailed into its time and place with sets and costumes so vivid you can smell the blue wood smoke and the stink of moonshine sweat, Hatfields & McCoys transcends the confines of its age by revealing the feud’s posturing, resentments and callous violence that mirror the dynamics of modern urban gangs… It isn’t a perfect piece—when faced with a choice between historic detail and story, Hatfields & McCoys errs on the side of detail, which is both the series’ greatest strength and weakness.”

Part one drew the largest ever ratings for a History program and one of the biggest in cable TV history. 13.9 million viewers tuned into the first of three parts, making it the most-watched single broadcast on ad-supported cable ever, excluding sports.