- Fair for Its Day: Focuses on racial issues in a rather sympathetic light(for the 1930's), and Magnolia becomes a career woman after Gaylord abandons her, and raises her daughter well independently.
- Harsher in Hindsight: The subjects of racial prejudice, alcoholism, love and abandonment are already serious. However, in the late 90s during an Australian production, cast member Marlon Brand stabbed his then-wife and fellow cast member Rebecca Jackson Mendoza nearly to death. She miraculously survived a massive tear in the aorta and a subsequent stroke, but Brand committed suicide. It makes the themes much sadder.
- Memetic Mutation: Ever heard the expression "Tote that barge, lift that bale?" It's from here.
- Values Dissonance: Minstrel shows and a man telling his wife she shouldn't work and worry about the man's world. Considered pretty normal in the 1800's (and early 1900's) but rather shocking to a modern audience.
- The original production used the N-word many times, mostly by bigoted whites or by blacks. It's even in the very first line of the opening song. Possibly accurate for the setting, but shocking even when the show premiered — and completely unacceptable today as originally written.
- The Woobie: Magnolia and Julie. Both of their husbands abandon them! Oh, and Julie ends up being alcoholic.
YMMV / Show Boat