Reflection Section: McCartney 3, 2, 1

by Jordan Mark

Reflection Section is back for more explorations! Shifting over to a new series, I’ll be plunging into McCartney 3, 2, 1: a six-part episodic series on Hulu featuring Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin conversing about McCartney’s career as a member of The Beatles and as a solo artist.

Two Beatles-related cinema have been released since the pandemic. One was McCartney 3, 2, 1 and the other was The Beatles Get Together. When deciding between which one I would watch, I was unsure of which to explore. I ended up going with McCartney 3, 2, 1 because its total time is 180 minutes, while the total runtime for The Beatles Get Together is a whopping 470 minutes. Unless I want to pull an all-nighter (which I unwillingly do anyway), I would rather go for something that actually fits into my schedule. Going into the six-part series, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d seen the trailers but had forgotten what was on them. Nevertheless, I was ready to see what was in store.

Shot in black-and-white, the series shows McCartney and Rubin evaluating songs from McCartney’s career as the two uncovered and commented on the thought processes that drove them to be crafted into works that would subsequently be adored by the public for generations to come. With frequent use of instrumental isolation to rally up curiosity and perspective, the series has a lot more to do with The Beatles’ catalogue than The Beatles themselves (though McCartney does chime in with stories of his bandmates from time to time).

The simplicity of the series was apparent when watching. The black-and-white effect not only paired well with McCartney and Rubin’s hair color, but it also set the mood of the show as being interpersonal. With periodical external footage to cut up the flow of the program, you had to divert your focus on McCartney’s explanations to get satisfaction out of it.

As a result, the series was mundane to watch for me. Its rawness was pleasant, but the format was so vanilla that it was difficult for me to stay interested when watching. I hadn’t really grown up with The Beatles’ music as a child, so I don’t see that idolizing aura about them that so many people do. If I wasn’t a music and celebrity junkie, I might have stopped watching after the first two minutes.

Luckily, I am. Despite the tame feel, it was still very joyous seeing McCartney whimsically talk about the course of his catalogue as Rubin interjected with his viewpoints. Even if I didn’t completely get the same excitement over many of their fascinations, it was still gratifying seeing them be fascinated. Combined with little niches, such as McCartney attempting a country accent, to McCartney jumping up and down in his chair while listening to “Check My Machine” as if he was on a rollercoaster, the series highlighted McCartney’s treasured presence with prestige and respect.

Aside from the obvious person who does like The Beatles, anyone that doesn’t know much about The Beatles would also benefit from this series. There isn’t a coherent ending, but there’s fulfillment watching it. It’s a dive-in done with pride and is yet another thing to keep The Beatles spirit as vigorous as it can be.