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YMMV: Little House on the Prairie
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     TV Series 
  • Adaptation Displacement: Little House on the Prairie is the catchall name for the franchise these days, despite it being only one of many books with different titles.
    • The pilot for the series was a more-or-less straightforward adaptation of the book Little House on the Prairie. The series itself began with the setting and stories of On the Banks of Plum Creek.
  • Foe Yay: Laura and Nellie, whose rivalry defined much of their youth. In a later ep., when mellowed, married Nellie visits (and deals with her clone Nancy, see below), Nellie jokes with Laura about getting into a fistfight.
    • In a musical version, Nellie sings mournfully about her life 'Without An Enemy' once Laura leaves to teach.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Jenny. She's not a Littlest Cancer Patient, but the writers seemed bent on killing her for some sadistic reason. Every time they got close, though, she survived.
  • Most Annoying Sound: "EEEEEEEEELMEEEEEEERRRRR!"
    • There's also Nancy's "You haaaaaaaaaate me!" every time she doesn't get her way or is expected to obey a rule or do a chore.
    • Actually, the sound of Laura's music box in the eponymous episode of 1977 counts as well, especially after it breaks.
  • Nightmare Fuel: For a show supposedly purporting wholesome family values, this one had a lot of it. Dead children and babies, fires, rapists, gunfire, rampaging packs of feral dogs, drug addiction and withdrawal, disease...they spared the audience nothing about the harshness of life back then.
    • Don't forget Laura's nightmares in "The Music Box." The middle one in particular, where she's starving in prison while Nellie laughs maniacally and chomps on a chicken leg in front of her, is downright creepy.
    • The notorious two part "Sylvia" episode tops them all. It's shot like a slasher movie.
  • Narm
  • Narm Charm: To many modern viewers, one of the only reasons to watch. The other being Michael Landon's perm.
  • The Scrappy: Albert. There's a reason he was listed as the reason the show Jumped the Shark in the official "Jump the Shark" book.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Mrs. Thayer teaching style... oy vey.
  • Tear Jerker: Ooh boy howdy yeah. The moment when Mary's vision goes completely is probably the nadir, though. Her father holding her as she wails inconsolably at the moment they'd been dreading all this time...
    • After the death of her baby brother, Laura climbs up to the highest point she can find and prays to God to take her life to bring her brother back. She tells God that her Pa always wanted a boy, and that God had a boy and so God might like to have a little girl too.
  • Values Dissonance: The Aesop veers back and forth between modern values and prairie values being heralded as superior.
    • Albert sleeping in the same bed with Laura would raise some eyebrows nowadays. They weren't pubescent quite yet, but weren't far from it, and although the family did adopt him, he was not biologically her brother.
  • The Woobie: Mary. And Sylvia.

     Book Series 
  • Cool Big Sis: Laura, to Carrie and Grace. Alice to Almanzo.
  • Cool Uncle / Cool Aunt: Aunt Lottie, Aunt Docia, and Uncle George are this in Laura's POV, and later Uncle Tom, who shows up in De Smet with a dramatic story about traveling through the Badlands looking for gold. Eliza Jane and Mary became this to Rose.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The end of These Happy Golden Years can become this, after reading The First Four Years. The Wilders are initially quite optimistic about their future, but the first years of their marriage turn out to be one almost-unmitigated disaster. Drought causes their crops to continually fail, they both come down with diphtheria (which gives Almanzo a stroke, leaving him dependent on a cane for the rest of his life), their infant son dies, and then their house burns down and they subsequently lose both claims. If it weren't based on real events, it would be a complete Shoot the Shaggy Dog story.
  • Hollywood Homely/I Am Not Pretty: Laura's rather critical of and dissatisfied with her own appearance; she envies Nellie Oleson her blonde hair and tall, willowy figure, as she herself is quite short, plump and brunette. In reality, she was a very pretty girl.
    • Runs in the family. In the Rose Years, when Rose is watching her mother get dressed up to see the banker about the farm they want to buy, she muses to herself that Laura is considered the prettiest of her sisters. And when Caroline saw a mirror after a long trip, she wondered why anyone could call her a pretty girl.
    • In "Little Town in the Ozarks" 13 yr. old Rose feels plain-looking and later in her teens admits to herself about how she hated her chubby cheeks.
  • Ho Yay: Almanzo and Cap, for some.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Mostly in the form of the ridiculously varied and unpredictable dangers of living on the unsettled prairie. The whole family bedridden with malaria at the same time with no one around to help until the nearest neighbors happen to check on them; all the times anyone gets stranded out in a blizzard and nearly doesn't make it back (or actually doesn't, in some secondhand stories), especially when it's made clear just how close someone could be to shelter and not even know it; the tornadoes, the fire, and most of all the "grasshopper weather." And although there's an almost oppressively civilized, Victorian tone to a lot of the social interaction in the books, The Wild West creeps in here and there: the railroad workers in By the Shores of Silver Lake, particularly the mob that nearly attacks Pa; the story of a homesteader who left his farm briefly and came back to find a squatter there who shot him dead; and even Mrs. Brewster, the wife in the family Laura stays with when she's teaching school, who is so homesick and stir-crazy from isolation that she's become dysfunctional and abusive to her husband and threatens him with a butcher knife one night ("If I can't go home one way, I can another").
  • Purity Stu: Almanzo's father James Wilder. When not being shown, we are repeatedly and explicitly told in Farmer Boy that he is the best farmer and the smartest, shrewdest, most important and respected man in his community, not to say a kind, fair, understanding, all-round great dad. Mitigated somewhat in that the story is told from the POV of his hero-worshipping small son, presumably also as filtered through the much older Almanzo's nostalgic memories.
    • Mary borders on this after she goes blind; all the emphasis on an Ill Girl's angelic forbearance during a difficult time can be a little hard to take. (Even something as nice as the scenes in which Laura tries to "be her eyes" is slightly marred by Mary's Literal-Minded habit of "gently correcting" her whenever she uses a metaphor to describe something.) It's a nice change later on when she comes back for a visit from college and Laura immediately notices how confident, happy and self-sufficient she is, she displays a sense of humor for almost the first time in the books, and she and Laura get along better than ever.
  • Ship Tease: There were some hints that Cap Garland had in interest an Laura.
  • Squick:
    • The leeches in Plum Creek.
    • Mice chew off some of Pa's hair as he sleeps.
    • The grasshoppers, especially when they crawl over baby Carrie.
  • Tear Jerker: The death of Laura's son, especially so close after her and Almanzo's diphtheria, which was followed by Almanzo having a stroke. Modern medical theory is that the baby was conceived too soon after the diphtheria and died as a result.
    • Comes up again in the The Rose Years, when the Wilders attend the funeral of their hired man's infant son. Both Almanzo and Laura are wracked with grief, Laura admitting that what struck the the hardest was hearing the preacher read the baby's name—the Wilders' son died before they gave him one.
    • The end of Little House on the Prairie, when Charles Ingalls muses on "how much fun the rabbits will have eating the garden" which they planted but have been forced to leave behind, along with their house and at least a years' work on their homestead.
    • The death of Jack the bulldog.
  • Values Dissonance: Laura's youth at the beginning of her and Almanzo's courtship wasn't at all unusual in the 1880's (she was 15 and he 25, which would garner a visit from Chris Hansen in today's world, but back then many, many women were married before the age of 20; if you were still single at 25 odds are people called you a spinster). Fridge Logic can hit that with a potential case of Surprise Creepy, though, when you consider he first met her when she was thirteen, and wonder just how much of a conscious Jail Bait Wait went on there. Laura failed her spot check when he first started courting her, but Ma definitely wasn't happy about it, precisely because Laura was only fifteen. Fortunately for Almanzo, Pa didn't seem to have any problem with it, but read from an adult 21st century perspective (especially a parental perspective), it can seem unintentionally creepy.
    • The blackface minstrel show — complete with jaunty assurance that "These darkies can't be beat!" — in Little Town on the Prairie, in which Pa takes part. Not precisely intentional; while the real Laura's experience with actual people of colour was severely limited, it seems to have been amicable. Back in that era, one didn't need to be overtly racist to find that kind of thing hilarious. The Unfortunate Implications and Dude, Not Funny! didn't show up until several decades after the books were written.
    • On a lighter note, the parenting styles on display in both the Ingalls and Wilder families, with their extreme emphasis on self-discipline and frequent reference to whippings, are liable to strike modern readers as serious overkill. Laura is reminded constantly that adults — 'ladies' especially — do not allow their emotions to show in public. And when little Almanzo gets too close to a hole during ice-cutting and nearly drowns, he is told immediately post-rescue that he deserves severe punishment for his carelessness, though the punishment does not follow. Pa also whips a 5-year-old Laura as punishment.
      • See particularly both Ma and Pa's response to Laura's kerfuffle with Eliza Jane Wilder during Miss Wilder's stint as Laura's schoolteacher in Little Town on the Prairie. Miss Wilder's treatment of Laura, and especially her harrassment of Laura's little sister Carrie, is unprofessional, patently unfair, and in Carrie's case borderline abusive; nevertheless, both parents chastise Laura for acting out in protest, and Ma tells Laura point-blank that she should never criticize her teacher.
      • At one point in Little House On The Prairie, Pa gives Mary and Laura a stern lecture for even thinking about disobeying him(though they didn't actually do so).
    • See also the Wilder parents' horror when Royal decides he's sick of the whole 'get up at 5am and work until sundown' gig and wants to become a storekeeper, instead of a 'free and independent' farmer.
    • The eponymous Little House on the Prairie was built in the middle of Injun Country: Pa basically found a spot he liked and started building his house. The Native Americans whose land this was are less than pleased, and feel they have a right to come in and take anything they want. This is shown as being a terrible thing to have happened — not wholly unreasonably at the time, since the Ingalls have put a lot of work into their claim but in modern hindsight, that Pa is squatting on their land is a lot more evocative.
    • Pa's obsession with moving in general. At the beginning of Little House on the Prairie, the reason given for the move from the Big Woods is that it's gotten too crowded — the definition of "too crowded" being that the Ingallses sometimes, without trying, encounter people they are not related to. After multiple moves and much traveling, Pa's attitude doesn't change, and Laura clearly demonstrates that it's hereditary. The only thing keeping them in place once they hit De Smet is that Charles long ago promised Caroline that he'd ensure their kids got a proper education.


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