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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Keeping up with the Krafts: Apple TV+’s ‘The Dynasty’ is a bumbling football soap opera

Brook Ward/Flickr/Alexander Jonesi/Flickr/New England Patriots/Wikimedia Commons/WBUR/Flickr/Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Commons/Photoillustration by Peyton McKenzie

When describing the Apple TV+ documentary series “The Dynasty,” Tom Brady said it best.

“I’m not going to allow other people to take away from something so special,” Brady said.

Directed by Matthew Hamachek, “The Dynasty” covers the historic 20-year run of the New England Patriots. Based on Jeff Benedict’s book of the same name, the series focuses on the relationship between former head coach Bill Belichick, Brady, team owner Robert Kraft and their eventual fall from grace.

Unfortunately, “The Dynasty” is  too much like “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” and not enough like the love letter that every player and coach who contributed to six Super Bowl titles deserved.

While the series is clearly a top-quality product, and very well-reviewed — it currently has a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score — it has one glaring problem.

It wasn’t made for either the fans of the team or those who enjoy football.

Instead of telling the story of the most dominant football team in the history of the NFL, Hamachek focused more on the franchise’s scandals and evolving off-the-field incidents. More often than not, the series spun the negativity toward Belichick, making Kraft and Brady come off as the glistening heroes of New England’s football excellence.

And look, did the Patriots 20-year run have some major scandals? Yes (allegedly). Should the series spend time covering said scandals? Yes. But to spend entire episodes on some of these scandals is a disservice to what many consider the most dominant team in professional sports.

The Spygate scandal — where the Patriots were allegedly filming opposing teams from undisclosed locations in 2007 — justifiably received a full episode to dive into those details. That being said, a dramatic recreation of now-Vice President of Football Business Robyn Glaser carrying a hammer — mimicking when she was told by the NFL to destroy the tapes — was drastically over the top.

Could that have happened? Sure, but at the same time, it’s not a mid-day soap opera.

Another scandal that received a whole episode was the saga of former tight end Aaron Hernandez. To devote an entire episode to someone who only suited up for three seasons was undoubtedly a questionable decision.

In 2013, Hernandez was arrested and found guilty of the murder of Odin Lloyd and was charged with two other murders, which he was found not guilty of. Kraft and Belichick didn’t deserve a single ounce of the blame for Hernandez, yet the dramatics of “The Dynasty” sure lead you to believe they do.

Episode 6 reveals that Hernandez came to Belichick before his arrest, requesting a trade to a West Coast team because his family was “in danger.” Being the uber-talented player that he was, Hernandez wasn’t traded and continued playing for the Patriots until his 2013 arrest. The documentary’s talking heads heavily implied that trading Hernandez could have prevented Lloyd’s murder. Kraft even goes as far as to blame himself — and to an extent, Belichick — for Lloyd’s death.

“We messed up on this one,” Kraft said. “And for those of you who feel pain, I apologize.”

By focusing on the scandals, Hamachek missed the whole point of what made the Patriots great — winning football games. The series entirely skipped over the 2003 and 2004 Super Bowl victories — which included a 21-game win streak — and multiple MVP seasons from Brady. Instead, backup quarterback Matt Cassel received an entire episode dedicated to him.

At no point were Matt Light, Troy Brown, Kevin Faulk or Vince Wilfork — all members of the Patriots Hall of Fame — given a second of airtime, despite being some of the most crucial players in team history. Instead, the screen was filled with Bon Jovi, Rupert Murdoch and a New Jersey policeman.

Take legendary safety Devin McCourty’s comments for example. As a three-time Super Bowl champion and a member of the Patriots’ All-Dynasty team, he has more of a leg to stand on than most when it comes to the inner workings of the franchise.

And yet, McCourty publicly expressed disdain on his podcast, saying how he felt “duped” and “that (out of) everything that we all gave to the 20 years that it encompassed, they only hit anything that was negative.”

The worst of all is the final thing the viewer sees as each episode comes to a close: “Kraft Dynasty LLC” — a company that was set up to protect the footage in the episodes. While there’s no concrete proof that the Krafts were aware of how the series was slanted, it gives off the impression they had some say in what made the final cut.

The question “The Dynasty” tried to answer was, “Was Belichick or Brady more responsible for the Patriots’ success?” The real answer it failed to consider was that they couldn’t have done it without every player, coach and employee who stepped foot in 1 Patriot Place over the last two decades.

It’s a shame “The Dynasty” couldn’t deliver the story they deserved. Maybe one day that story will come, but until then, the six Lombardi trophies will speak for themselves.

“There’s nothing significant in life that can be accomplished as an individual,” Brady said. “It’s always about the team.”

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Colin Kennedy
Colin Kennedy, Managing Editor
Ethan Hurwitz
Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor

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