Well, I suppose my mind was playing tricks on me. I remembered the Little House on the Prairie tv series with such fondness. Michael Landon was so. . . good- wholesome even. The entire family exuded goodness and fresh prairie-ness. So many images were burned into my memory: the opening strains of music, the wagon swaying across the prairie, the girls running down the hill. The familiarity and predictability of it was comforting to me. (Don't you just know that Laura will always come out alright and that you can count on Nellie Oleson to be rotten?) In later years of my youth, this same predictability brought boredom and I no longer sat through hour-long episodes with commercials every ten minutes or so. But still. . . there were years of my life, I think, that I would rush to the tv set in great anticipation of this, my tv show. (I really only remember this and MacGuyver as weekly tv highlights.)
So this is becoming a strange post on tv viewing. We don't have a tv. We haven't had a tv for more than 4 years and before that, we only had our small tv/vcr combo for watching movies (or HGTV when we had free cable and I was home nursing my first babies.) There are reasons why we don't have a tv, and B and I both feel good about this decision for our family. . . but that could be another post another time.
Yet, we do occasionally watch movies. The kids count on Friday as either movie or game night. In search of something appropriate (and not too long!) for the family, I chose Little House on the Prairie at the library this week. We put it in on Friday and I was shocked!
Some things were exactly as I remembered, and I relished sharing the time-worn gems with my children. Loved their delight over Mr. Edward's singing and their curiosity over the customs and times. I was distressed, however, by the terrible representation of marriage by both the Olesons and even Pa and Ma Ingalls. Mrs. Oleson is appallingly disrespectful to her husband (didn't we always know he was kind and good? That's why I always liked him.) and he is a weak representation of father and husband. It sits poorly to see a man railroaded by his wife and walked over by his children. And yet! This is what I spent hours upon hours watching!
The behavior of the children shocked both me and our children, who sat with mouths agape at one of Nellie's temper tantrums. We were surprised at Laura and Mary's poor choices, too (including lying and cheating). This was one episode.
This wasn't what I had in mind. What appeared good in my memory is now, with age and a more sensitive conscience, less than excellent and praiseworthy. While it led to good conversation with the bigger boys, it was simply a poor example to the younger children. I don't intend to bring any more Little House home from the library (at least for a good long while!).