Bobby and JR Ewing in the latest version of Dallas
July 29, 2012

The Evil Brother

I watched Dallas back when it was first on, though I started watching it sometime after JR got shot. I watched it from start to finish once or twice when there was something called The Nashville Network, or TNN, around. TNN later became Spike TV, and stopped being a country oriented network. Now it was part of the mythology of the series that Bobby was the good brother. He was idealistic, altruistic, had a deep and abiding love for mother Gaia, and was always going on about protecting the land and Southfork. JR was the evil brother. He was always catting around, chasing the broads, making deals, and didn't give a hoot about the environment. He once had a pair of $1,000 boots made out of some endangered species.

It came as a bit of surprise when I watched the first episode of the new series, and I realized the sheer malignancy and evil of….


Bobby is full of fine talk about holding the family together, but he can only deal with JR as long as JR is in the nursing home and depressed. Bobby can then deal with JR from a position of superiority, something he could never do when JR was at his peak. There is a exultation implicit in his caring for JR, and his visits to him. When John Ross, JR's son, is drilling for oil on Southfork, he puts his foot down, stops the drilling, and tells the men that they'll be unemployed. Now keep in mind that there are supposed to be 2 billion barrels of oil under Southfork. So here we are deep in the Obama Depression with 8.2% unemployment, and gas prices at over $3 a gallon, and Bobby is so pure and cares so deeply about Gaia that rather than generate jobs, and help a bit with energy independence, he decides to sell Southfork. It's supposed to go to a conservancy that will keep the land from being developed. The conservancy will see to it that there is recreation, and golf, etc. In other words it will be turned into a playground for the rich, and rather than providing high paying jobs for people, will provide a series of low paying service jobs while Bobby's rich friends enjoy golf, hiking, tennis, all the stuff that high end resorts advertize.

JR, on the other hand, doesn't give a hoot about the environment. He believes Miss Ellie should have left the ranch to him. He's out to make as much money as he can. The power that he desires is not political power, but economic power, so that makes him less dangerous than Sue Ellen. In the process of his pursuit of his goals, he'll provide employment for people, and help them enrich themselves and their families, so that they'll be able to move up the social ladder. He does this not because he's an idealist, who will trample over everybody and everything in pursuit of his ideals, but because he is seeking to satisfy his own desires.

JR manages to achieve benevolence through his pursuit of his self-interest. He's a better person in reality than either Bobby or Sue Ellen. So lets give a cheer for JR. He may be a SOB, but as Heinlein once pointed out that can stand for Swell Old Boy as well.