Happy Wednesday! The idea for today’s post came about from watching an old TV show. It made me realize that even when some things are wrong, they’re right.
Let’s talk dialogue and social attitudes. When I wrote my Point Pleasant series (set in 1982 and 1983) I had to stop and remind myself of words and expression that weren’t in use at the time. Even the morals and attitudes of the era were different.Lately, I’ve been DVRing a few old TV shows. When I was kid, I was hooked on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. The idea behind the series came from a 1947 movie by the same name, but I didn’t know that at the time. Although the TV series was short-lived—two seasons—it was enough for me to fall madly in love with Edward Mulhare in the role of Captain Gregg. He was the “ghost” in the series title, a dashing sea captain who finds his home invaded by a young widow, her two small children, their maid, and a dog. Although the original movie was drama, the TV series played for comedy with romantic sparks flying between the stalwart Captain Gregg, and Mrs. Muir, the lovely widow. Watching it now, it’s horribly dated, but still makes me smile. Hubby, on the other hand can’t see the attraction. We do, however, enjoy another old series, produced before I was born. The Rifleman is a western about Lucas McCain, a widower and Civil War veteran who is raising his young son, Mark, on his own. Although Chuck Conners in the title role gets to do a lot of fancy shooting with his specially modified rifle, the heart of the series is about the relationship between father and son. I’m a sucker for that stuff.
I was completely unfamiliar with The Rifleman until my husband found it on an obscure channel and got me hooked. The other night we watched an episode that aired in 1962. Mark and Lucas are cleaning up dinner dishes. Thoroughly enjoying the episode, I made the comment to hubby that “I’m gone on this series.”
This is the dialogue exchange between Mark and Lucas that immediately followed my comment:
Mark: (standing at sink and looking at a dirty dish) This isn’t clean, Pa.
Lucas: I guess that just goes to show the best dish washer is still a woman.
*Hysterical laughter from my husband*
*Yelling at the TV from me*
Husband: Are you gone on it now?
When I got done yelling (and he wiped his eyes from laughing so hard), I reminded myself the episode aired in 1962. Not only that, it reflected a time frame not long after the Civil War. Even if the episode was remade today, the mentality would be correct for the time period in which the show was set. Hard as that dialogue exchange is to swallow, there is nothing wrong with it when placed in perspective.
I remember writing a short story set in the 70s and cringing when I had to use the term stewardess instead of flight attendant. But I grew up hearing that term and it was correct for the time.
We all try to be authentic in our writing, but are there phrases you’ve had to use (based upon an era or time period) that made you cringe? Can you think of any example like mine from The Rifleman that made you roll your eyes or laugh? Heck, maybe you just want to tell me what silly old TV show you still remember fondly, despite the fact it would send PC monitors shrieking into the wild.
Let’s have some fun in the comments!