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The recent PBS House series has just aired. Leading up to it, they showed another of their House series.

I have become an adict of the various Hice shows. A few of them I’ve missed, like the 1900 House At the time, I was still the grad-student snob… and sooo above reality T.V. It’s not that I hadn’t seen one or two of the Real World episodes when it first came on... but it was one of those curiousities of life, one of those things you stumble across on summers home from college.

Though I enjoyed Frontier House (watching a marriage breakup before your eyes is never pleasant, however) and, Colonial House, neither were as good as Manor House, nor Texas Ranch House. (Could be tainted by having just viewed Texas Ranch House, however.)

Manor House fascinated because of how well it worked… the servants complained and plotted against the masters, but still they did their work. The masters were oblivious to their servants. The servants knew every detail of the masters’s lives (to the point of knowing when they’d fought and when the man of the house had been kicked to the couch); whereas the masters knew nothing of the lives of their servants.

Making it all the more fascinating was that the master, a self-employed Business Manager, grew up working class. Though he he says of himself “In my egalitarian, politically-correct present, I’m pleased enough to receive politeness and civility from others, so I just wonder how uncomfortable I shall feel when confronted by Edwardian servility.”; he apparently finds that he has no problems with servility. His wife, a doctor, spends the last few weeks in teary-eyed confessions about how she was meant for a life of ostentatious wealth at the top of the Edwardian heirarchy. Indeed, life in a house where others mop your floors, wash, dry and press your clothes, cook and serve your food, make your beds, handle all preparation for whatever party you should want to throw, even dress you, is a life to which many can grow accustomed. Especially when you have no idea, and remain blissfully unawares, of the backbreaking labor that goes into providing for your creature comforts.

Though the master of the house commited to playing the game by the rules (living in strict accordance to the Edwardian way of life, in every aspect of it), he apparently had no problems ordering the cook to change the recipes—cut the cream and fat. Though we are to play by Edwardian rules, no need to develope a late case of arteriosclerosis. Yet, again, the same consideration was not extended to the servants.

A similar social dynamic occured in Texas Ranch House. But, I don’t have time to bore you with that.



We just borrowed all 8 episodes of Ranch House, and hope to watch them sometime this week. (With comment here to come when we see it.)

Without doubt, these shows are da bomb. I’m sorry I missed Manor now, though.

oh, you can rent or borrow (i’m impressed that they have it) or buy manor house… they came out with manor house before ranch house.

We watched Episodes 1 & 2 tonight. That Mr. Cooke is gunning for trubble! He won’t speak at table or at church and bows out to his wife; he won’t go out hunting with his ‘hands because he has to make his wife running water? Gimme a break! The one who wears the pants ain’t the one wearing the pants. Plus, now Indians have made off with the horses. Life is totally unfair; and it’s the best show on tv.

oh it gets better!

We have to watch Smallville tomorrow, but we might go on a bender Friday and Saturday to wrap up the series. I’m so excited!

(And, yes, I realize that my insane committment to watching Smallville suggests I—no, we have a problem. Steve Earle sings that cocaine cannot kill his pain, but heroin can; my drug is much more mundane: the WB serves up sugary bites of television that goes down smooth as silk goes on.)

gotta say i’m not liking TX Ranch House as much as Frontier and Colonial. I don’t see as much potential for conflict here, and i can’t believe they actually branded the cattle. i guess PBS doesn’t go in for that whole “no animals were harmed” bit.

oh just wait… the cookie crumbles… and other things.

tho, you’re right, there aren’t crazy unitarians

Finished the series tonight. Wow. K & I talked a lot about it already, but Wow. It got better than the first two episodes, for sure. The ranch was a sham, although more a sham from the rancher’s perspective than from the cowboys’. Everybody involved in the project knew the details of the social hierarchy of the ranch, but none of them understood what the hierarchy was for.

The anthropology student, two-faced as she was, is no Margaret Mead.

Mrs. Cooke made too many enemies, or found too many enemies, and was concerned about nothing but her own comfort.

The conflict in the whole series, in some ways, might actually have represented some 19th-century ranches: surely there were women then who sought control and manipulated their husbands like Mrs. Cooke did. But what the show didn’t have, that probably most would’ve, was someone who could move between bunkhouse and ranchhouse, who could smooth over disagreements and make people understand each other. Mrs. C wasn’t interested in anything like that: she intercepted all discussions that were heading toward reconciliation and she disrupted them. That’s evil.

(BTW: 6 above was our 2,000th comment since we graduated from Blogger!)

well, come on… despite letting the garden go to seed, she felt one with the earth…

more later.

i liked how mrs. c fueled maura’s feminism under the pretense of her standing up for women, when all it was was a ruse to get her out of the house.

i also liked how mr. c, good upstanding baptist that he is, stiffed his cowboys at the end, as a weak show of his own authority.

And how weak his authority was! “If you do it, I’ll beat the s—t out of you,” he says, then turns around and does what he did the entire 3 months: sits on his porch and watches silently as the hands ride off the ranch.

What was Mr C’s problem? Sometimes he seemed like a decent enough guy, even a capable manager, but the reins of Mrs C were short, and he never strayed far or long from home. He said at one point during the series which I think is the most telling thing he said the whole show, “I manage people all the time, and I do it well, but I don’t have my family looking over my shoulder telling me what to do, second guessing my every decision.” That says to me that he has no power in his domestic life in spite of the fact that he and Mrs C claim to make every decision together.

i wonder what it was like to go back to work after the airing of the show.

there wasn’t one cowboy who didn’t at one point refer to mr. c being little but a steer