Little House on the Prairie was all Sweetness & Light
Little House on the Prairie was a long-running and ultimately very popular period drama that ran from 1974-1983. It was based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and followed the lives of the Ingalls, a farming family. I watched this from a young age as my parents were fans (this would be re-runs it ended before I was born!) Overall I think it’s a very good show and deserves its acclaim.
I think the reason it has that sweetness and light feeling is because it did project a very wholesome image within its family units. And there was plenty of moralising, but I think it generally found a good balance between being overly preachy and putting some decent points across. Also, the show starred Michael Landon who was an actor who somehow managed to portray a level of ‘warmth’ rarely seen in a TV show (see his other big hit Highway to Heaven).
Although some episodes were lighter and more ‘fluffy,’ just like the characters featured this wasn’t always the case. And so, for those remembering it as a fluffy classic, let’s go over why this wasn’t always the case. It’s worth remembering that, like Highway to Heaven, Michael Landon was not afraid to tackle hard-hitting subject matters.
Take the episode Rage, This features a man struggling financially who one day snaps and kills his wife and daughter. The man flees and hides out in the Wilder household. He begins to believe that Laura and Jenny are his dead wife and daughter and holds them at gunpoint.
Home Again tackles drug addiction with Charles discovering Albert addicted to morphine. There is also Sylvia one of the darkest episodes, featuring a 16-year-old who is raped by a masked man that goes on to follow the Sylvia (the girl who is attacked) and partner Albert.
And that is just a selection, there were plenty of other darker moments too, so if you pick up the smiling Ingalls family on a DVD boxset, know that there are plenty of sweet and light times but darkness too! Ultimately, I think the show was aiming to reflect real-life, like the original book series.
See my first TV Misconception: