Thursday, May 10, 2012

because green girl cares about your cultural literacy

Take a seat in the one room schoolhouse and I'll explain the finer points of Little House on the Prairie.  For the record, there are two types of LHP people--those who've read the books and those who've watched the TV show.  I've done both, but the books are the point of reference for the TV show, so that's your go-to source for accuracy.  When Laura "Half-Pint" Ingalls was a kid, her nemesis was the blonde-haired daughter of the local shopkeeper:  Nellie Oleson. 

TVland made Nellie into a major character (seriously--she never even gets shoved in Plum Creek--the TV show made that all up!), but LHP readers know she was really a minor player in Laura's real (but not really real) life.   (For more on this, read The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure, a book I highly recommend for any true-blue LHP fan, book or TV.)  Eventually, TV Nellie grew up, married a Jewish guy, had babies and moved to New York City while Laura grew up, married Almanzo, worked as head schoolmarm and had babies.  To fill the void in her life after Nellie left town, Mrs. Harriet Oleson adopted a blonde-haired daughter to take her place--and replace Nellie as the Town Brat:  Nancy Oleson. 

In TVland this took place in 1981, after the Ingalls adopt orphan children Cassandra and James (played by real life hottie Jason Bateman).  Fine.  I'll post his picture, too. 

Jason Bateman Picture

Happy now?

In short, NELLIE and NANCY are TOTALLY DIFFERENT CHARACTERS on the TVland prairie. 
Other LHP fun facts:  Laura Ingalls's family never adopted any kids, morphine-addicted Albert was a TVland invention, as were the brother and sister Pa discovered by the side of a covered wagon wreck.  Pa moved the family with stunning regularity in real, real life and in the book, they never lived anywhere for very long and certainly not for nine seasons.  Almanzo never had a schoolmarm teacher living in town with him during his bachelor days, his whole family stayed on their gorgeous farm Back East. 

Finally, many of you Alan Rickman fans are missing out on his most glorious romantic role as Colonel Brandon in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (1995).  Behold!

I was intrigued by him as Hans Gruber.  I gave my heart to him as Colonel Brandon.

Your homework:  go rent Sense and Sensibility.  I'll expect a full swoon report tomorrow.

Spill it, reader.  Did you read or watch LHP?  Or both?


  1. Your posts make me smile each day!

  2. I knew about Nancy Olson. Isn't that sad?

    Sense and Sensibility with Alan Rickman was swoonable. But I prefer the PBS version.

  3. I love the books, but I didn't watch much of the show because the "poetic license" bothered me. Although Laura herself did the same.

    Oh yes, I have already swooned over Colonel Brandon. Why is he not Sir Alan already?

  4. Yes, Col. Brandon! I'm swooning as I write. But alas, the photo of Jason Bateman did not come through for me, or I would be double swooning.

    I read the books, all of them, as a child. My husband watched the TV series. He is often telling our children what Mary Ingalls was required to do, blind, at the age of 11. (I don't think she was blind at that age, but when he's just trying to get one of our kids to do the dishes, not blind and older than 11, it seems fair to conflate the events of Mary Ingalls' life.)

  5. Well, hey, maybe I need to rent the dvds or something to refresh my memory ;-) All those N names! Easy to get mixed up!

  6. I read the books, watched some of the TV series. I loved the books.

    I fell in love with Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon. And it was Emma Thompson who inspired the name Emma for my daughter :-)

  7. No, no, no, no. Alan Rickman's most romantic role is in "Truly, Madly, Deeply." That movie is hands down my Alan Rickman moment. Although I did like him as Colonel Brandon too. Who wouldn't?

  8. Something about the TV version struck me as wrong. Maybe it was the idea that no matter how sweet, Michael Landon wasn't a tall string bean with a beard. He just wasn't Pa to me.
    I read all the books - most of them multiple times.

  9. I has confuse...are you saying that Alan Rickman appeared in an episode of LHOP?

    Of course I read the books. The show always ended half an hour after my bed time so I could only watch the first half of each episode and die of humiliation at school the next day while the other girls discussed the episode.

  10. Alright then, I guess I wasn't as up on the TV show as I thought.

  11. You are the second person to tell me about LHP and the book!!! Small world.
    And you really know your facts! Impressive.
    xo jj

  12. Never read the books and the TV show never seemed quite real for some reason. However, Jane Austen of course is another story.

  13. I read the books (many many many times over) and watched the show religiously. Loved them both!

  14. Almanzo's sister was a school marm in the book "Little Town on the Prarie". And I believe his brother moved west to the Dakota Territory with him as well, so they did not all stay back east.

    As for the Ingalls family, once they got to the Dakota Territory, they settled down for the remainder of their lives. Laura and Almanzo moved down to Missouri for health reasons later in their lives, where she wrote a newspaper column.

    I read all the books, multiple times. Of course I handed them down to my daughter (They were the first chapter books she read). We have a few of the follow up books on hand too (there's a cookbook! and the collection of her columns from her newspaper column days). And we have a portion of the series on DVD. I'm a LHOP geek.

  15. I was a fan of both the books and the show. Sadly, I don't remember much of either of them, but I'm hoping to get the books for my own daughter, read them, and then learn about the true history of the family.

  16. I'm a great LIW fan, too. I've been to visit her house in MO more than once. Read all the books and then watched the shows. I've read and re-read the books many times.

  17. I have all the Little House books, which I bought in the seventies. When the TV show came on here in Australia I loved it instantly. I bought the first book out of my pocket money from the local newsagency(LHOP)....and then I found out there were more!
    The kind lady at the shop ordered them all in for me. They sat in a line, on a shelf behind her counter. As I saved the money I would go in and buy the next one.(I had to go back to the beginning of the series)
    I remember that each time I went in I was scared in case she'd sold them.
    So the series was great...but for me it's all about the books.

    ...and BTW when they blew up the town at the end of the last show. Wha?!!! Talk about jumping the shark...

  18. I have an incredible urge to reread all my Little House books. NOW.


Spill it, reader.