Disasters on TVs Little House on the Prairie cursed by Satan?

There have been many threads that reference the TV show Little House on the Prairie and the horrible things that have happened to the characters on a “family” tv show. I thought it would be amusing to see a list of all their misfortunes, when you add them all up it is clear some malevolent force was lord of Walnut Grove.

So from memory:

Only son dies in infancy
Eldest child goes blind
Wheat crop destroyed by storm
Eldest daughter’s child dies in a fire
Town wiped out by financial collapse
Adopted son’s girlfriend raped and dies
Indian “invasion”
Daughter trapped in a mine shaft
Daughter trapped in runaway balloon
Daughters trapped on a runaway railcar
Jessie James invades the blind school
Farm put up for debtors auction
School childern released into a blizzard

God or the devil was really after them.

When I was a kid watching that show, I thought everything that happened to the Ingalls family was true. I didn’t realize that TV writers were making up most of it.

Don’t forget the very last episode, when the townspeople deliberately blew up Walnut Grove rather than letting the railroad have it.

And the dad fell out of a tree.

SOME of the horrors and tragedies seen on the show realy did happen to the Ingalls family. Some were just made up by the TV writers.

I very rarely watched the show, and never read any of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, so I won’t comment on how well each of these subjects was handled (perhaps each episode was touching, perhaps they were all laughably corny).

Regardless, it’s fair to say that life on the frontier in 19th century America was hard. Medical care was hard to come by, and primitive where it was available. Child mortality was still high. A book or TV show about a family in that kind of setting would HAVE to show death and disaster, if it were to make the slightest pretense at realism.

MAYBE the “Little House” TV series was pure cheese. But MAYBE you’ve wrongly assumed it was a silly, mindless, phony, unrealistically cheery show when it wasn’t.

I have a friend who comes over to my house to watch tv, and she likes that show. Just a few weeks ago, as she turned it on, she said, “Oh, this is the one where they blow up the town.” I laughed, thinking she was joking, but no. Best episode ever.

Do you remember the anthrax outbreak? The two farmers with infected sheep that let the meat get sold around Walnut Grove.

Only son died- true
Eldest daughter goes blind- true
Children released into blizzard- true
Crops destroyed by locusts/storm- true (locusts for Ma and Pa, storm for almonzo and laura)

The first was never mentioned in the books, but is true. The next three were mentioned in the books. I can’t say about the rest.

Not on your list- Laura loses a son (not in a fire)- true

Laura and Almanzo’s house burned down (in the book.)

The creepiest bad thing in the books to me was when Mr Boast tried to offer his best horse for baby Rose, Laura’s daughter. Seriously! The creepy part was the Boasts were the Ingalls’ best friends in the series. It was creepy but sad too. The Boasts apparently wanted children but couldn’t have any. The scene concludes with the Wilders driving abruptly off, while Laura stares back at Mr Boast as he stands watching them leave.

Did they show that in the TV show? I can’t recall.

Ma cuts her leg and nearly dies from infection
Drought nearly kills pregnant Laura

I seem to recall some serious horse kickings too.

Oh, god, I remember this one! Pa and the girls are in Sleepy Eye or something and Ma’s leg was infected and purple and swelled up, and she’s sitting in the house with the Bible, a bottle of booze and a HUGE KNIFE, reading the “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out. If your leg offend thee, cut it off” verses…scaaaary for a kid.

This is the way it was for people like that. The show was sappy and silly, but you have to admit that they made an effort - for the time, a very honest one - to portray the actual difficulties a frontier family would have. They were usually poor and got sick a lot, as people back then often did. You didn’t see Charles Ingalls riding a horse around because no family like that would be so stupid as to waste money on a horse just for riding it.

I should also point out as a baseball fan that the episode with the baseball game was in fact highly realistic; two neighboring towns playing a crude game of baseball that ended in a horrible brawl. That was nineteenth century baseball, all right.

Hell, that’s 21st-Century soccer…

I wonder how common this type of thing was? Not mentioned in the published version of the book, but Laura wrote about having a family try to take her in when she was young. I’m thinking it was a Doctor’s family in Iowa, but it might have been someone during their second stay in Walnut Grove.

Well this sort of thing is fairly common in dramas especially those that tend towards the soap operatic tendencies. Look how many deaths and bizarre tragedies (murderers, tornado, plane crash) there are on Wisteria Lane. I remember someone commenting once that if a real person went through all the emotional wringers writers put their characters through, they would probably all end up catatonic.

Actually, passing kids around was far from uncommon, there was no welfare system. Adults were free to starve themselves but children were frequently taken away and passed out to other parts of their family or to families that had the space. My family includes a subfamily that isn’t actually related to us, my great great grandfather [mothers side] got one of a set of kids taken away from a local townie that was pretty inept. Couldn’t keep a job because of drinking, and he finally drove the wife away by abusing her. No other of their kin in the area, so they parcelled out the kids and told him to be out of town by dark. All informal, no paperwork or anything, but not uncommon. [1892, for what it is worth]

Kids would be taken away and put into orphanages in cities and towns that were large enough to have them. I think ggUncle Raymond had it a heck of a lot better than many, there were 7 other kids to play and share chores with. And he got to finish 10 years of schooling, and get sent to college for accounting.

Another fun episode was when Pa got bit by a dog he thought might be rabid, and Laura was the only kid around for some reason–I guess Ma and the other kids went off to see Ma’s parents or something–and Pa tied himself to a tree and told Laura to stay away from him because he might start acting crazy.

Fun times.

But they never learn. When you live on a TV show you should never leave your children alone. :smack: