Victorian Slum House
May 5, 2017 2:57 AM   Subscribe

Apologies if this content is US only, but PBS is currently running Victorian Slum House [link to first episode, 55m], which "takes viewers back to the British slums of the 1800s, where a group of modern-day families, couples and individuals recreate life in London'’s East End as their forbearers once lived between 1860-1900." [Ed. note: I rolled my eyes at it when I first saw it on the schedule but ended up watching it tonight and was impressed by its depth and emotional honesty.]
posted by hippybear (52 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
"We're sorry, but this video is not available in your region due to right restrictions."

Oh, well. That's that then. Carry on.
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:19 AM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry, I don't know how to test for that, although being PBS I thought probably US only. Maybe you can do a search from where you are and find a source that plays for you? If so, post a link here!
posted by hippybear at 3:23 AM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Following your suggestion I did a search on YT. It's there. But it presents on a small screen embedded in a larger, rolling background. I guess to avoid the rights police. The constantly moving backrgound is, to say the least, unsettling. I'm off to watch Stephen Colbert's latest [full screen] monologue instead..

hippybear... thanks for the post. No worries.
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:40 AM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Seems to be a program that the BBC ran last year, with the name "The Victorian Slum". Available for purchase (for UK folk at least, maybe others?) from the BBC for 6 quid here
posted by Gratishades at 3:40 AM on May 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


Mister Bijou: When I've encountered that I've used options in my operating system to expand the portion of the video I want to watch to the full screen. It's not the BEST option, but sometimes it's been my only option. I don't know if your OS allows you to do that like macOS does, but if it does, it might work for you.
posted by hippybear at 3:45 AM on May 5, 2017


A-ha! "The Victorian Slum" is available for download [*cough*] online.
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:46 AM on May 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


We're only one episode in here in the US, so please no spoilers beyond that. I appreciated the general tone of the piece despite my initial dismissive attitude, and there were genuine moments of emotion that I found to be really moving not just theatrical.

Can I just say here, I much prefer the UK kind of reality show than I do the US kind? I think the best example of this is The Choir. Watching people cooperate rather than compete makes me feel alive rather than sad.

I exempt Great British Bake-off from this because that's people competing mostly against themselves rather than against others.

posted by hippybear at 3:51 AM on May 5, 2017 [7 favorites]


Keep watching, the series is absolutely excellent.
posted by dowcrag at 4:04 AM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Have you ever seen Coal House? My local PBS channel showed it last year and I thought it was pretty good even though that kind of set up isn't exactly in my wheelhouse.
posted by NoMich at 4:35 AM on May 5, 2017


I think "it was pretty good even though it isn't exactly in my wheelhouse" is possibly the best possible kind of recommendation in this day of media saturation. Variety, spice, life, etc.
posted by hippybear at 4:38 AM on May 5, 2017 [8 favorites]


"Victorian Slum House" is my favorite Dirtbag Leftist comedy podcast.
posted by sigma7 at 4:56 AM on May 5, 2017 [7 favorites]


Up next: The UK's Next Top Pure Finder.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:20 AM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Slummer party.
posted by pracowity at 5:26 AM on May 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


Tunnel Bear may well help with this region lockout filth. I must confess, however, my issue with this and all the shows like it in the UK (The 1900 House, The Georgian House, The Saxon Poop Hut, The Early 1990s House) is that it is an anthropological obscenity to think you can penetrate the mindsets and expectations of past generations. You cannot. Of course being in a Victorian slum was hard, but so was subsistence sharecropping. Modern people really cannot get into the mindset. You KNOW there are doctors out of shot. These shows are essentially theme park vignettes with pretensions. Cheap holidays in dead people's misery, really. On TV.
posted by The Salaryman at 5:30 AM on May 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


Huh, that's funny. I've seen a couple of the other BBC and PBS "House" series and have always joked that someday they'd make a "Tenement House" show so you could experience the glamorous lives of my ancestors. You'd spend an episode deciding whether you should send your eight-year-old daughter to work in a sweatshop to buy your ten-year-old son another year in school, and then it wouldn't matter because in the next episode they'd both die of cholera. Fun times! I can't believe they're actually doing it.
These shows are essentially theme park vignettes with pretensions.
I mean, they're reality TV shows, so yes. But at their best, they typically look at the tensions between historical expectations and modern sensibilities. They're not faithfully recreating the past. They're exploring how contemporary people experience some aspects of the way people lived in the past. The middle-class housewife in 1900 House felt so bad about having a servant that she fired the maid, not realizing that she was depriving an actual working-class person of an experience that the person wanted to have. It was sort of fascinating (and infuriating) to see how class guilt led the lady of the house to replicate oppressive class dynamics. One of the women in Frontier House, who was a lot more experienced with horses than any of the guys, chafed against the expectation that she would cook and clean and leave the ranching to dudes who couldn't do it as well as her. The people in Colonial House refused to go to church all day on Sunday, even though that was totally historically accurate, because they were bored witless and couldn't figure out why the annoying preacher dude had so much authority. (The preacher dude was really enjoying it, though. Captive audience, literally!) The whole point was that they weren't from the eras they were reenacting, and they didn't experience anything from those eras as natural.

But there's never enough violence and death in those series. It's a real flaw.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:43 AM on May 5, 2017 [21 favorites]


Just watched all the clips and am looking forward to the whole series. I am a fan of the British history shows. I think they're pretty responsible, as well as interesting, and they exist to lay a modern perspective on the past while at the same time sharing facts about the past, so it's not horrifying that they do so.

Others I like are Tales from the Green Valley, Victorian Farm, 1940s House, and for food history, The Supersizers Eat.
posted by Miko at 6:02 AM on May 5, 2017 [10 favorites]


[Just FYI, the blue is not a spoiler free zone and you may discuss the whole series. Use FanFare for spoiler-avoiding.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:07 AM on May 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious I love your take there. I must say the whole format smelt so bad to me I've never sat with one long enough to see the fascinating counter-narrative you describe. And yes - I am waiting for a Japanese take on it where there is real violence, peril and disease. And worse. A renewed format could take in concepts like 'Galley Slaves of the Barbary Coast' or 'Ice Age Ritual Cannibal Cult'. Just take it all to another level of real.
posted by The Salaryman at 6:07 AM on May 5, 2017


Just take it all to another level of real.

I fear that is exactly where things will go, but there's no need. Most of these series have components where they discuss the real morbidity and mortality and brutality, but don't re-enact them. I"m really fine with that - we're close enough to an entertainment culture of real-death gladiator shows already.
posted by Miko at 6:19 AM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


There was a Frontier house series a few years ago that did the same sort of thing. Put modern folks onto early 1800's midwestern/western homesteads. The wife and I would joke that our suburban vegetable garden results "wouldn't last us through the winter".

Around the same time we watched Tony Robinson (Black Adder, etc) in "The Worst Jobs in History". Quite entertaining/enlightening/horrifying just what "progress" has entailed.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/frontierhouse/project/series.html
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Worst+Christmas+Jobs+in+History
posted by wkearney99 at 6:24 AM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


You cannot. Of course being in a Victorian slum was hard, but so was subsistence sharecropping. Modern people really cannot get into the mindset. You KNOW there are doctors out of shot. These shows are essentially theme park vignettes with pretensions. Cheap holidays in dead people's misery

♫ Rent a flat above a shop,
Cut your hair and get a job.
Smoke some fags and play some pool,
Pretend you never went to school.
But still you'll never get it right,
'Cause when you're laid in bed at night,
Watching roaches climb the wall,
If you called your [producer] he could stop it all.
posted by thivaia at 6:46 AM on May 5, 2017 [15 favorites]


Thank you for this post, it's right up my alley. I'm also a huge fan of all the Ruth Goodman ones. Although watching the clip of the disabled gentleman losing his income hit a little too close to home after watching Trumpcare pass the House yesterday.
posted by antinomia at 6:59 AM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: never enough violence and death.
posted by datawrangler at 7:14 AM on May 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


This a great series. What I like most about it is that each week they move through the different decades and look at social changes and reactions to them in a way that doesn't hit people over the head. The whole show could be subtitled 'This is why we developed social services, the idea of a societal safety net, universal healthcare, unions, health and safety regs etc. You really want to roll back to even more of this crap again? "
posted by Jalliah at 7:23 AM on May 5, 2017 [16 favorites]


This is fantastic. I'm actually very interested in these sorts of methods, especially for helping non-historians or students learn about a period. Of course, you can never truly experience someone else's suffering, but I think it's a different kind of presumption to imagine that people from the past were so entirely unlike us that it's pointless. They were human too, and many people now live shit lives without access to medical care. This is a starting point, not the end, but living or embodied history is not an approach to immediately dismiss.
posted by mmmbacon at 7:24 AM on May 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


The whole show could be subtitled 'This is why we developed social services, the idea of a societal safety net, universal healthcare, unions, health and safety regs etc. You really want to roll back to even more of this crap again? "

Future generations will see this show and marvel at the luxury these people live in.
posted by briank at 7:49 AM on May 5, 2017 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not sure I understand the criticism. If the points of the show are to entertain and provide some insight into what living in those eras was like I think they're successful. The counterargument seems to be that, unless we're willing to let people die from cholera or whatever we shouldn't even attempt to engage in participatory history and I don't think I agree with that.

it is an anthropological obscenity to think you can penetrate the mindsets and expectations of past generations

I don't think that's the goal.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:52 AM on May 5, 2017 [6 favorites]


The same crew has produced several other series along the same lines, most of which I have been watching on YouTube...

There's Edwardian Farm, Victorian Farm, Tudor Monastery Farm, Victorian Pharmacy, and more...they're all interesting.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 7:52 AM on May 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


I love these. We live in a house built in 1869 in on a street that was all built at that time also so I try to imagine what it would have been like to live on my street at 150 years ago. Of course our house is a middle class one, the slum houses were all bulldozed in the early to mid-twentieth century.

What none of these shows can capture is the smell of what it was like to live back then. The combination of horses, outhouses, coal stoves, lack of baths, and steel mills running 24/7 would have made even my middle to upper class neighborhood pretty rank.
posted by octothorpe at 8:03 AM on May 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


I've said this before, but I wish there was a way you could take a family from one of these eras and plop them into 2017 America.

either that or take my son back to 1990 IN MY DAY IF YOU HAD A COMPUTER IT HAD A MONOCHROME SCREEN AND WE LIKED IT
posted by Lucinda at 8:13 AM on May 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


These sort of things - as most popular science/history/factually based stuff on TV - reach multiple audiences. Their primary one is those who want to be entertained and have something to think about, a bit, because you need the numbers to justify the production, to help set your brand and all those good media things. If the programmes hit the mark there, and they don't traduce the reality of what they purport to depict too, too terribly, then they're a success.

A much smaller audience, too small to measure but disproportionately important in the long term, are those who get seriously enthused about the subject and start out to learn more on their own. This is where a lot of anthropologists, historians, scientists, mathematicians, engineers, etc, came from in the first place - as children who had their curiosity kindled by a good bit of entertaining TV that opened the door to the hard stuff. It's the same idea as having a broad curriculum at school, not because everyone's going to become fluent in all subjects - how many of your school subjects did you never go back to after you left, and how much can you remember of them now? - but because you want to catch the three or four kids in every batch who'll find that intellectual niche in which they'll thrive.

The BBC does a lot of this sort of fishing overtly, with quite a few popular science doc series being co-funded and branded with the Open University and a 'to learn more, go to this website' path.

So by all means criticise the anthropological inexactitudes of historical reality shows, these people have to be kept honest (and there are good reasons why many academic institutions who have helped out with documentary makers swear never to do so again). But I think the better ones do good in subtle ways that's easy to overlook from the jaded swamp of adulthood.
posted by Devonian at 8:51 AM on May 5, 2017 [9 favorites]


I watched this when it was on the BBC, in a spirit of 'What nonsense is this?', and was tremendously surprised. I think that people really shouldn't comment on the idea before they've seen it. The way it was done is actually more like an immersive game than anything else - they construct an entire artificial economy, in which everyone has the odds stacked against them but some more than others. It's about two days before the adults are skipping meals to feed their kids. It was pretty horrific, to be honest, and pushes right at the edges of what you can do with reality TV.
posted by Acheman at 9:48 AM on May 5, 2017 [6 favorites]


I watched the first episode of this last night. There's a moment where the host says some things along the lines of "back then they viewed crushing poverty as just part of the natural order, and if you were poor you just had to endure it." Which, you know, is basically the mantra of the current U.S. Republican Party. If you're poor and you get cripplingly sick, too fucking bad for you.

Anyway, I've loved previous series like this so I'm looking forward to more. (I particularly liked the Edwardian House one, where the rich family took to their roles a little too easily, while in the servants world, they had a hard time keeping anyone on the show as the scullery maid.)
posted by dnash at 10:09 AM on May 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


For those having a problem watching online on PBS, I found that Foxfire restricted my viewing of it, but Chrome didn't. Just watched the first episode and found it really well done.
posted by SA456 at 10:15 AM on May 5, 2017


The part where the kids were involved bothered me a bit; having my kid go even a week with nothing but bread and butter and a few cups of soup to eat would be hard for me to do. Kids participating in reality shows in general is kind of hard for me to feel comfortable with.

Speaking of smells the part where they let kippers cure in the outhouse was eye-opening.
posted by emjaybee at 11:31 AM on May 5, 2017


having my kid go even a week with nothing but bread and butter and a few cups of soup to eat would be hard for me to do

And that's the point of the show, really.

I don't think that what you are seeing on camera is actually what is happening to the people participating. The thing about reality television is that it's absolutely not reality. Except for maybe the first two seasons of The Real World.
posted by hippybear at 12:46 PM on May 5, 2017


I find these kinds of shows reliably interesting. Among past favorite moments: In Victorian (middle-class) house when the mother broke down in tears of laundry (WHO WOULDN'T?); in Edwardian Manor House when at the start the "gentry" were so uncomfortable about having servants and classes but by the end of six weeks they totally considered it the natural order and the wife was like "i think we've hardly been any trouble, we're good and democratic masters" and all the below stairs staff were like "LADY IS A BITCH"; in Frontier House where in general the women were much more prepared for the drudgery and hardships of subsistence living and the men were all like "I have so many survival skills!" and mostly fell apart; also in Edwardian Manor House where they had an Indian tutor come in and his awkward in-between position in the family -- too high-class for the below-stairs servants, too low-class for the family, and the only minority -- like intellectually I knew that about tutors and governesses but it was a lot more visceral to see a modern person with all their modern assumptions put in that situation, even knowing it was temporary play acting, and how disorienting and upsetting it was for him.

I also always find the experience of the kids really interesting, removed from modern, protected childhoods and expected to work (typically with the family) and take on a lot more chores and responsibility, and also without TV and internet and so on and figuring out how to self-entertain without them. There are a lot of commonalities with the kids' experiences across all these series, which I think starkly illuminates some things about modern childhood (mostly positive, but a few negative).

(The BBC ones also do a pretty good job explaining what they can and can't do, and how it's similar and different to the "real" past. Sometimes they're like, "Actually the kids would be doing X but that is INSANELY DANGEROUS so no.")

Anyway I watched this one with my 7-year-old and he was really, really interested, especially in what the kids were doing and how they had to work and had no school. He thought he would want to be a grocer because they made money and had the most food, because they could eat the store food. I thought I'd want to be the tailoring family, but he pointed out the mom and dad weren't really eating very much.

I did not know about the two-penny hangover and I was horrified by that.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:33 PM on May 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


[Just FYI, the blue is not a spoiler free zone and you may discuss the whole series. Use FanFare for spoiler-avoiding.]

That seems sort of backwards. And why I don't read about movies and shows here.
posted by bongo_x at 3:56 PM on May 5, 2017


Of course being in a Victorian slum was hard, but so was subsistence sharecropping.
"Next on BBC2, "Well, We Called It A 'House': T' Shoebox in Middle o' Road.""
The whole show could be subtitled 'This is why we developed social services, the idea of a societal safety net, universal healthcare, unions, health and safety regs etc. You really want to roll back to even more of this crap again? "
The Beeb do / have done a whole bunch of one-off & short series social history docos covering the origins & nationalisation of the dole, the history of free hospitals & the development of the NHS, worker organisation & unionism, the history of occupational safety standards, the history behind the development of national fire / police / ambulance services, etc. Well worth looking out for.

I hear there are even certain groups that specialise in sharing those sorts of shows. Not that I would know, of course…
so please no spoilers
They all die go back to their normal lives in the end…
posted by Pinback at 6:34 PM on May 5, 2017


...Of course being in a Victorian slum was hard, but so was subsistence sharecropping.

And if the US had balls and appropriately funded public broadcasting, we might have that show.
posted by Miko at 7:08 PM on May 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


"And if the US had balls and appropriately funded public broadcasting, we might have that show."

PBS did Frontier House, which addressed some of those issues around race, land, farming, and settlement. But can you imagine any sane person who would agree to be on a show where they'd be a slaveowner/sharecropping master? The BBC showing an Edwardian house reality show with paid servants -- albeit poorly paid -- is qualitatively different than PBS showing a "reality show" featuring slavery or sharecropping, and I'll note that the BBC has never, to this point, reconstructed slavery in Britain for a historical reality show. Virtually all of their shows are well after the abolition of slavery; only "Tudor Monastery" was before that I'm aware of.

PBS has created "Colonial House" set in a reconstructed Plimoth Plantation which featured modern Passamaquoddy and Wampanoag acting as historical Passamaquoddy and Wampanoag, and which did deal with slavery, and the individual in that role quit the show.

In what way do you imagine a reality show about sharecropping in the US could be created and broadcast on PBS in any remotely ethical, anti-racist fashion?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:15 PM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


But can you imagine any sane person who would agree to be on a show where they'd be a slaveowner/sharecropping master?

Yes, absolutely. I work in museums and particularly am involved in consulting and leading historic sites and museums, and there is a robust community of people currently very interested in developing a clearer sense of lifeways and social relationships during Reconstruction and the nadir of race relations through the Jim Crow era. I think in fact there would be any number of potential participants and scholar-advisers who would not only participate, but closely follow and promote, such a project.

I know a few people who were involved in Frontier House and Colonial House. Those projects were interesting but not terrifically daring in their unpacking of such issues. Had they done better incorporating Wampanoag perspectives, it would have been more representative and particular.

Finally, slavery d/n equal sharecropping.
posted by Miko at 8:22 PM on May 5, 2017


I got to watch some of it. I think they've done a good job of showing how things worked. Historical detail looks good. Actually the acting isn't bad.
Many historical series leave out children, this series does have children. I noticed a couple children who looked to be half South Asian. I'll be watching.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:53 PM on May 5, 2017


"Finally, slavery d/n equal sharecropping."

Yes, ergo "slaveowner/sharecropping master"

But again, your suggestion is that the BBC is willing to take on race relations and historical poverty in daring ways that PBS is not ("if the US had balls and appropriately funded public broadcasting"); I think that claim is unsupported by the historical shows that have been developed. What is the BBC doing w/r/t slavery in historic reality shows ,or poverty in historical reality shows, that you think PBS ought to be doing, that it isn't?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:59 PM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Honestly, it was the woman who burst into tears talking about how hard her ancestors worked in Victorian times to give their children a better life who then worked to give their children a better life and so on and that's how the got to live her life today, and how she was so genuinely surprised at the sudden emotional engulfment she experienced that sold me on the show as being something a bit more than the description.
posted by hippybear at 9:01 PM on May 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


Needs more Ruth Goodman.
posted by cosmologinaut at 10:31 PM on May 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


For those interested in a similar type of show with a North American slant, the Quest series are set in Canada. (Pioneer Quest: A Year in the Real West, Klondike: The Quest for Gold, and Quest for the Sea). Available via Amazon Prime (and elsewhere, I presume).
posted by oceano at 5:50 PM on May 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


What is the BBC doing w/r/t slavery in historic reality shows ,or poverty in historical reality shows, that you think PBS ought to be doing, that it isn't?

Listen, you're coming across as a little hostile, but I'll keep attempting to answer: I think that it would be great if PBS developed shows as good as this one, on topics as or more directly relevant to Americans and particular to our history. A show on urban tenements in the peak immigration years, 1880-1920, would be great. As would a show on Reconstruction/Nadir/through WWII sharecropping.

Following the publication and awed reception of books like The Warmth of Other Suns and The New Jim Crow - just to name a couple - we are in a moment when this era is being re-examined and re-evaluated, and many, many people are keenly interested in returning to this period -- which has been relatively under-studied, compared to the period of enslavement and/or the Civil Rights Movement. This is one of the most active areas in historical scholarship and public history right now, and there is a great deal of simple establishment of fact and context going on, and TV is great for representing that as it emerges. I know that the interest is there, and the contextual knowledge is there, and the evidence is there. I think a lot of people are interested in understanding how their ancestors, turned out of a plantation (summarily or gradually, through neglect), negotiated the stacked deck of a legal and land-ownership system, attempted to make a living from the land and hold families together, provide for some sort of education or training, save some amount of money, try to own property...the struggles were heartrending and the mere survival of the conditions heroic. Some had some degree of success in this skewed system, while some -- many -- left for Northern or Western cities. This is the chapter in family history we don't talk about as much - but one tremendously enlightening in considering issues of race, geography, and economy today.

I can imagine a really interesting look at the system in which families with a rented allotment try to follow all the prescribed rules for making a living under sharecropping, attempting to achieve what it in propaganda promised: an independent, debt-free, prison-free existence; and at the end of the show, having experienced some dramatized stand-ins for the statistically supported negative realities of natural disasters, short weighs, racist landlords, company stores, Draconian civil codes, impossibility of banking, and the prison-lease system, would have the opportunity to choose whether to stay and invest in land or keep trying to, or buy a train ticket.

Some of the people who are working on projects dealing with this era:
Michael Twitty - Afroculinaria, The Cooking Gene
Joe McGill - the Slave Dwelling Project
Owen-Zella Whitfield Foundation
The Reverend George Lee Mansion
Nicole Moore - Interpreting Slave Life
Toni Tipton Martin - The Jemima Code
People are already doing this work. And it's really transformative and important work. There are just no TV cameras. yet.

If you look at the inventory of historical "reality" shows, it's really clear that the BBC repeatedly knocks it out the park. PBS, our poor analogue for a national public network, for whatever reasons, does not or cannot. When it did attempt to make a foray with Colonial House and Frontier House, it quite obviously sidestepped more determinative historical places and times, and chose two myth-laden, romantic eras and did little to complicated them, ending up pissing off marginalized communities and perpetuating gender stereotypes and underexposing scholarly views, in comparison to the British series. My friend on Colonial House pretty much said he decided the whole enterprise was garbage the day Oprah and Gayle showed up on set. Frontier House had no people of color, despite the fact that 1 out of 4 range workers in the 19th century was black.

So yes, I think a show on Southern sharecropping around 1880-1900 would be tremendously enlightening, interesting, painful, and moving. I know there are knowledgeable people who would contribute and there would be people who signed up to take part in a structured experiment of the kind on Victorian Slum. I don't think it'll happen, not because no one would take part (they would) but for many reasons mostly financial and political and because PBS does not have the infrastructure . But I wish it would. What the British shows do very well is bring the participant project down to a focused and theoretically achievable challenge within a tight time frame, and document the struggles and opinions of the participants while managing not to make them the central focus of the tale. What they do, instead, is stage and use the experiences of the participants to create windows in which a narrator or scholar talking heads, sometimes in museums or historic sites and often with physical evidence, can contextualize their experience with concrete objects, wider narratives, and contrasting/conflicting views, mostly without indulging individual quirks, fueds, and peccadilloes- which the American shows did not do well.

Ultimately, I'm just saying: I wish we had as strong a tradition of and investment in high-quality examinations of our own American history using this storytelling approach as the British do.
posted by Miko at 7:29 PM on May 6, 2017 [4 favorites]


Frontier House had no people of color, despite the fact that 1 out of 4 range workers in the 19th century was black.

Apologies, FH had 2 people of color. In thinking back to FH and CH, I think there were two pincipal stumbles that are very visible in contast to the BBC approach: 1. the "experts" and scholars they engaged (excepting the Plimoth Plantation staff who are admittedly public historians rather than academic historians and thus were likely to advise in more limited capacities), are not widely respected; this is especially true for the FH scholars; 2. The emphasis was placed more on Survivor-style interactions between people, creating conflict and drama and highlighting and their personality flaws, rather than on illuminating historical conditions ("Historionics," as one scholar terms it).
posted by Miko at 7:43 AM on May 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


Is there a FanFare listing for this show? I have seen two of the episodes and am surprised by how engaging the series is (so far.)
posted by mightshould at 5:23 PM on May 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


You could submit one.
posted by Miko at 5:59 AM on May 11, 2017


We're up to 1880. Mini McGee very interested by the Jewish migration due to the pograms (one of his aunts migrated during that wave) and I'm interested/amused by the teen daughter who is eye-poppingly horrified at her mother turning sweatshop taskmaster ... but of course you would if you had to feed your children, wouldn't you?

(Also Mini McGee wants to know if I'll pay him 8 pennies for terrible jokes. I told him I thought he should pay me 8 pennies for every one I have to listen to, as they NEVER STOP, and he's already told me the Victorian ones like three times.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:26 PM on May 16, 2017


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