"Little House on the Prairie"

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My television-viewing options were quite limited as a kid.  "The Simpsons" was unknown to me until college, and even "The Wonder Years" was off-limits due to its treatment of burgeoning young adult sexuality.  I was, however, allowed to watch ABC's catchphrase-laden "TGIF" lineup (and "Did I do that?"  Why of course, "don't be ridiculous!"... OK, now I'll "cut! it! out!"...), which I'm sure rendered me a joy to be around. 

I was also allowed to watch "Little House on the Prairie," which played in syndication on a seemingly endless loop on TBS.  It looked like wholesome family fare, what with the smiling Laura in her gingham frock playing airplane in the meadow (anachronism?  hmm...) and leaping joyfully in the air at the end of every episode.  Sure, there was conflict--often driven by Nellie "Bad Seed" Oleson and her busybody mother--but there wasn't any swearing, and even if there ever was, Pa would probably fiddle right over it and make it all better again.

But there was also a darker side to the "Little House."  And it made me afraid of two things: nosebleeds, and cornmeal.

Nosebleeds?  Well, that's what killed off Albert.  It meant he had leukemia (!!!) and was going to die.  Imagine my terror after every pinkish-looking sneeze thereafter.

As for the cornmeal, there was an episode called "Plague" where rats have infested the town's cornmeal supply, which gives everyone typhus.  I have been suspicious of cornbread ever since.  Yes, it might make a delicious accompaniment to chili, but is it really worth dying for?

There were other traumatizing episodes too--I mean, life on the prairie was hard, and as The Oregon Trail will teach you, death is pretty much inevitable--not to mention "Sylvia," which involved a masked child rapist who kills Albert's first love (not horrific enough for one episode, they extended it out for two!), but that's a tale for another time.  Play us off, Pa!

Lesson learned:
Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea that they blew up the entire town.

"Little House on the Prairie."  Worldvision/NBC 1974-83.  Perf. Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle.
Buy Little House on the Prairie: The Complete Nine-Season DVD Set

1 comment:

  1. And they play this on the hallmark channel…