The series has always been fast and loose with history. But the finale did that with a vengeance, in little and major ways. Joe Kennedy, one of the best historical characters in the series, just introduced this season, knows that the polls that show Hoover beating Roosevelt are wrong, because only the very rich were polled. Actually, the polls which were notoriously wrong would be conducted four years later, when FDR was shown losing to his Republican challenger big time. It was realized only years later, in astute historical analysis, that the Literary Digest poll made the mistake of conducting itself via telephone, which of course only the very rich had in their homes at that time. (I have a 1931 New York City phone book which is thinner than today's New York Times.) No way Joe Kennedy could have realized this four years earlier, as smart as he was.
But the big historical discrepancy was the killing of Nucky at the end. In our history, the real Nucky Johnson (that was his name, not Thompson) died decades later, in 1968. Yeah, I know this story from the very beginning was fictionalized - including the change in last name - but to differ so drastically on such a major point undermines the story. Maybe it's just me, but I always like my historical dramas to stick to the major facts. Show Marc Antony with as many women on the side as you like, but don't leave out that he was with Cleopatra, or that he lost the Battle of Actium. Rome, still one of the best historical dramas ever on television - also on HBO - walked that line beautifully. Boardwalk Empire looked like it was doing that for much of the series, but fell out of step in the end.
Still, if the ending of Boardwalk Empire was disappointing and even trite, that was only because so much of the show previously was so good. The series gave us riveting story lines, brilliant acting, and brought a somewhat unexplored part of history to life. I've seen dramas about Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky lots of times. Boardwalk Empire was one of the very best. R. I. P.
And see also Boardwalk Empire 4.1: Sneak Preview Review ... Boardwalk Empire 4.2: Sneak Preview Review ... Boardwalk Empire 4.2: J. Edgar ...Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview Review 4.3: Honey, Sunny ...Boardwalk Empire 4.3: Nucky, Sunshine, and Heroin ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview Review 4.4: Downfalls ... Boardwalk Empire 4.4: Bullies and Betrayals ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.5: The Gift of Rage ... Boardwalk 4.5: Two Deaths ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.6: Good Lovin' ... Boardwalk Empire 4.6: Sally and Margaret ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.7: Beds, Promotions, Surprises ... Boardwalk Empire 4.7: Family and History ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.8: The Blues ... Boardwalk Empire 4.8: Knives in the Back ... Boardwalk Empire 4.9: The Imbecile ...Boardwalk Empire 4.10 Sneak Preview Review: Unholy Alliances ...Boardwalk Empire 4.10: Family Treachery ... Boardwalk Empire 4.11: Nucky on the Beach
And see also Boardwalk Empire 3.1: Happy News Year 1923 ... Boardwalk Empire 3.2: Gasoline and the White Rock Girl ... Boardwalk Empire 3.3: The Showgirl and The Psycho ... Boardwalk Empire 3.5: "10 L'Chaim" ... Boardwalk Empire 3.7: Deadly Gillian ... Boardwalk Empire 3.8: Andrew Mellon ... Boardwalk Empire 3.9: Impaired Nucky
And see also Boardwalk Empire 2.1: Politics in an Age Before YouTube ... Boardwalk Empire 2.2: The Woman Behind the Throne ... Boardwalk Empire 2.3: Frankenstein and Victrola ... Boardwalk Empire 2.4: Nearly Flagrante Delicto ... Boardwalk Empire 2.5: Richard's Story ... Boardwalk Empire 2.6: Owen and Other Bad News for Nucky ... Boardwalk Empire 2.7: Shot in the Hand ...Boardwalk Empire 2.8: Pups with Fangs ... Boardwalk Empire 2.9: Ireland, Radio, Polio ...Boardwalk Empire 2.10: Double Shot ... Boardwalk Empire 2.11: Gillian and Jimmy ... Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Finale: Stunner!
And see also Boardwalk Emipre on HBO ... Boardwalk Empire 1.2: Lines and Centers Power ...Boardwalk Empire 1.10: Arnold Rothstein, Media Theorist ... Season One Finale of Boardwalk Empire