You cannot watch or revisit Little House on the Prairie without a sense of nostalgia taking over. May it be the fact that you have watched the show as a young person, may it be the fact that it presents a distinct (and somewhat altered) vision of the old days, the show manages to drag you back into the old age, where things were a bit different than nowadays.
But then again this doesn’t mean at all that Little House on the Prairie didn’t hide some other truths than the usual ones found in a family-friendly series (the question being in here one that concerns the definition of family-friendly). Of course, I still have the same images in my mind when thinking about the series, idyllic images with two girls walking through the prairie to school, with their lunch pails swinging from their hands. And then, deep down, other images appear, taking over.
A family-friendly series meant a lot more than just presenting the “good” family values, back in the 70s when Little House on the Prairie aired. It also meant presenting the “bad” (and the “worse”) ones, if I may say so. The age presented in the show was a harsh one, and the age when the series aired was a different one, with different values than today. So, in conclusion, the series tackled with topics such as alcoholism, adoption, racism, and even rape.
I am not saying that today you won’t see these subjects debated on TV series, I am just saying that a parent would/should reconsider letting a child watch this kind of a show. Even more, I am saying that these topics are sugar-coated when presented nowadays.
Little House on the Prairie had something for every family member to enjoy. Better yet, every family member had something to learn from each and every episode, depending on which character that episode focused. So, at times I’d watch a drama, while at times the comedy felt right at home in the series.
By today’s standards, Little House on the Prairie wouldn’t be a primetime series, because the powers that be would certainly consider that burning schools would have a great impact on children. And they would probably be right.
On the other hand, it can’t be denied that these kinds of shows have an educational aspect attached to them. I can even dare to say that the brutal way some of the subjects are approached present the world in a more truthful manner than otherwise. Maybe the word isn’t “brutal”, but “honest”.
In conclusion, I’d say that Little House on the Prairie is not an average family-friendly show: it is, actually, a show for the entire family, fascinating in the way it depicts the old days, fascinating in the way it actually resists the test of time.