I have been traveling a ton. Well, “a ton” if you’re like me and you don’t leave your house much. Being out of town 2 weekends in a row is practically like I’m Magellan, Cortes, or the conquistador of your choice.
My first trip was to Washington, D.C. to visit BFF. Her fancypants government job means she typically lives overseas, but right now, she’s in D.C. Hurray! So, of course, we had to celebrate by having a girls’ weekend.
Now, D.C. is an amazing city filled with historical significance at every turn. Why, a long weekend was hardly enough time for us to see even a fraction of it!
That’s why we didn’t even try. Instead, we spent most of the weekend fulfilling a dream – nay, fulfilling our destiny.
Yes. We watched all of the “North and South” miniseries, or, more accurately, television event. And yes, we earned extra credit by watching the horrible third installment.
Now, there are certain signs in life that tell you if you’ve made the right choice or a seriously wrong one. And people, I’m here to tell you that the fact that BFF owns all 3 of the “North and South” DVD sets is a sign that I choose my friends very well.
We were in fifth grade when this miniseries, or, more accurately, television event, first took to the air. Do you remember it? It was a big, star-studded deal! Amazing battle scenes, period costumes, and the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, and Gene Kelly in cameos!
It was glorious.
But rewatching this epic television masterpiece as an adult had me cringing just a bit. Now, BFF and I were raised on cable teevee, Frosted Flakes, and full-sugar pop. But our parents either didn’t realize or were too tired to care that “North and South” was teaching their fifth-grade daughters about way more than the civil war. The miniseries, or, more accurately, television event, covers these educational topics:
- American history
- Backwoods abortion
- Adultery in brothels
- Adultery with married congressmen
- Adultery in abandoned churches
We also learned these important life lessons:
- If your nemesis falls through the ice, do yourself a favor and don’t save him from drowning. It will only end badly.
- In the olden days, people died really fast. You knew they were dead by the dainty trickle of blood coming from a corner of their mouths.
- Slashing your abusive husband in the face with a saber isn’t enough to keep him from kidnapping you later. You best kill ’em.
- People in the south were evidently super, mega dumb. See also:
- You can’t interrupt your ladylove’s wedding if you show up for said wedding late – even though it’s happening next door and you’ve known about it for several days.
- You can evidently “hide out” in Charleston without a disguise and no one will find you even though your husband has detectives looking for you.
- Don’t ever cast Wayne Newton as a sociopathic prison warden. While a seemingly inspired bit of “special guest” casting, it will be completely unbelievable. Viewers will spend his scenes humming “Danke Schoen.” This will not forward your goal of representing gritty, realistic prison conditions.
I do feel like a better person for having watched all 1,404 minutes of “North and South.” Clearly, I learned a lot.
However, I haven’t seen any other miniseries, or, more accurately, television events, from the 70s and 80s. I’ve never seen “The Thorn Birds,” or the others that I don’t even know about. What are your guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasures from television’s past?