I caught the first episode of this British series on PBS last night. It seems to be a reasonable facsimile of what life in the 1700’s would have been like in Virginia. (Interestingly, it was almost totally filmed in Hungary.)
It also occurred to me that British shows are more female focused when it comes to historical drama. Why is that?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that women make up the majority of people watching television in the UK. Their fellows are either down at the pub or over at the football pitch cheering on their favourite teams. The girls are waiting at home with the kids. Simple, really.
Anyway, history is boring: who won what battle when and where? We all hated that part in school. But add the point-of-view of women to the story and history takes on a more interesting aspect, humanity.
All the great authors and dramatists knew that: if you want bums on seats, you have to attract the women.
Who Better than the Brits to tell the Tale?
If there is going to be a story-teller to provide a ‘true’ insight into what really happened, especially in colonizing the New World, the descendants of those colonists will be just a little bit prejudiced. The newcomers came from the Old Country. The reasons for their migration are tied to events in the United Kingdom. The seekers after their fortunes came to America to forget what had happened before. And forget they did. But those they left behind did not forget, and they are now sharing their insights with the greater world.
(Sometimes, and I cannot imagine why, Americans think that any story about their beginnings should be played by Americans. They have a distrust of British accents, I suspect. It may also be that they wish to distance themselves from their own history.)
Other Tales Before This One
“Banished” was set in the penal colonies of New South Wales in Australia. It was a harsh environment, and the authorities were merciless to the inmates, but, again, the Australians that we know and love descended from that mass migration.
“Outlander”, as I mentioned before, does the reverse: an American woman goes back two hundred years in time to life in Scotland (and visits other places along the way, inclusing France, Jamaica, and, yes, even Jamestown).
And at the heart of every story is a love relationship which transcends time and space.
I suspect that is what keeps the ladies watching.