Widowers and widows populate Sara Colangelo’s Worth, and viewers expect these characters in a drama about 9/11. This is coming out just before the 20th anniversary of the attacks. Anyway, a widower, Charles Wolf (Stanley Tucci) writes a dish on Scotch tape. It’s a dish that his late wife used to cook for him. A widow, Karen (Laura Benanti attends the opening of a memorial that include a plaque bearing the name of her late husband Nick. He lost his life rescuing his brother Frank.
Nick and Frank, by the way, were putting out the literal fires burning where the ruins of the World Trade Center are. Charles and Karen are on the radar of lawyers Ken Feinberg and Camille Biros (Michael Keaton and Amy Ryan). Both are in charge of suing American Airlines and the DOJ, both monetarily responsible for the deaths during that September day. Thing is, Karen doesn’t want the money. And Karen’s refusal is just one of the complications on a system that puts monetary value on the dead.
Viewers might think many things about the legacy of 9/11, or whether or not this drama came in too early, too late, too strong or weak about the disaster. But part of this is still a decent showcase for some character actors. These actors shine in the few scenes that they’re in. These actors play the bereaved, weary of whether or not they’ll say something that invalidates their claim in the already shaky suit. There is a tinge of classism in these characters, or at least Max Borenstein’s script’s version of them.
I know that not all but some working class people are racists. But the one town hall scenes where people shout anti-Semitic remarks at Ken reinforce that classism. It’s also as if their concerns come from their lack of understanding of the legal system more than the fact that their reasons are valid. In fairness, the bourgeois don’t come off as well here neither. The drama somehow has room to mock that class through an overtly metaphorical opera scene.
Benanti does great work here, adding an authenticity and a benevolent side to the drama’s working class contingent. Nonetheless, the drama frames its more major characters like Charles and Ken in suspicious ways. Tucci is almost unrecognizable to certain viewers, looking more like Larry David and himself. There’s also this tug war within Keaton’s performance as he depicts Ken. There’s accent work to denote acting, yet most of the performance otherwise is subtle. Although that subtlety wins over and is necessary here in depicting Ken getting closer to his clients and their moral ambiguities. Ambiguities come with these clients taking or not taking the money they deserve. Despite its flaws, it’s an interesting drama about approaching moral conundrums. Problems here appear after characters solve another, like it does in real life.