The problem with "historical" series is not that they play fast and loose with historical accuracy – "so did Shakespeare” – but rather that people believe that the dramatic license is the truth, says John Rossi, a history professor at LaSalle University in Philadelphia.
JFK and 'JFK'
Many people take their view of the Kennedy assassination “from Oliver Stone's awful film, JFK," he says. "There is no way around this even if there is a notification before the film that liberties were being taken."
What complicates matters, he adds, is that people have increasingly substituted films and television for the reading of history.
However, the objections to these shows are not as big as say, the fracas that surrounded the 2003 CBS mini-series “The Reagans.” The broadcaster shuffled that one off to its in-house cable network, Showtime, after advertisers bailed. Neither “The Kennedys” nor "The Borgias” has seen advertisers quailing or any equivalent mainstream angst over historical fidelity.
JFK, Michael Jackson, and painkillers
What may be more interesting about the two series is how they reflect the sensibilities of the present day. President Kennedy is persistently depicted using prescription medications – up to 17 at a time – and even employs a unlicensed medical practitioner to administer regular injections. At one point, the first lady also uses the shadowy “Doctor Feel Good,” to help her get through her busy schedule.