Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

The layers of fame and despair attached to the name Hemingway are many. They start, of course, with author Ernest, the blustering (and immensely talented) man who embodied machismo for decades of admirers before he took his own life in 1961.

Ernest’s son Jack was, according to his daughter Mariel, half of a toxic marriage, especially after the nightly “wine time.” Mariel also believes that Jack, now dead, sexually abused her older sisters Joan (called Muffet) and Margaux; Mariel suspects that she was spared only because her mother, also dead now, insisted that young Mariel sleep with her, away from Jack’s advances.

Muffet, meanwhile, has battled mental illness. Margaux became famous as a model, moved less successfully into acting, fell into drugs and alcohol and killed herself in 1996.

That leaves Mariel as the best-off of the bunch, though as the documentary Running From Crazy shows, there were ironies attached. The film, which premieres at 9 tonight on Oprah Winfrey’s network OWN, notes that Mariel has long been conscious of her family’s conflicts, the thread of mental illness and the troubles that could arise not only between parent and child but among siblings. After all, Mariel broke into acting in a supporting role in Lipstick, a sordid film intended as Margaux’s star turn; Margaux’s reviews were brutal, while Mariel impressed so much that she would later get an Oscar nomination (in Woody Allen’s Manhattan) and eclipse her sister.

Running From Crazy addresses that as Oscar-winning documentary director Barbara Kopple interviews Mariel; follows her to various appearances for charities; talks to her daughters, boyfriend and ex-husband; peeks into her daily life; and blends all that with archival footage of other family members to form a rich portrait of Mariel and her family.

Mariel is disarmingly frank in some of the interviews. We are also reminded that tempestuousness was not confined to other Hemingways in a long segment where Mariel deals, unhappily, with some outdoor mishaps. But overall, we see that she works very hard at “running from crazy” — not only to keep herself well, but to help others who have faced the crazy in loved ones or themselves.

Elsewhere on TV, Monday brings the second-season finale of The Following at 9 p.m. The over-the-top thriller, which has already been renewed for a third season, stars Kevin Bacon as investigator Ryan Hardy and James Purefoy as Hardy’s murderous nemesis Joe Carroll. In the season finale, says Fox, two other characters turn the tables on Hardy and Carroll, “forcing the two sworn enemies to come together to save the woman they love.”

Also winding up this week: the first season of USA Network’s comedy Sirens, at 10 p.m. Thursday, and the second season of the History channel’s Vikings, also at 10 p.m. Thursday. Vikings, by the way, is already set for a third season.

Planning ahead: Those of you who keep asking when Longmire will be back on USA Network now have an answer. The third season begins on June 2. Based on books by Craig Johnson, the series stars Australian actor Robert Taylor as Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire. As fans know, the first and second seasons were tough on the sheriff and the third season, says A&E, finds Walt “reeling from a series of devastating traumas.”

Fans of The Killing, which ran for three seasons on AMC, will have to go to video-streaming service Netflix for the fourth and final round of six episodes. It arrives on Aug. 1.

Speaking of Netflix, the second season of Orange Is the New Black will be there on June 6, and the buzz is already loud — including a cover story in Entertainment Weekly. But if you want to catch up and do not subscribe to Netflix, the first season will be on DVD and Blu-ray on May 13.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.