One of the iconic TV shows who fascinated the public throughout the 1970s, The Waltons remains one of the most re-watched Hallmark series. There is really nothing to object to this superbly realized family drama. Seeing how inspiring it is to countless viewers, the slightest attempt to bring it down is exposed as a superficial ungrounded stab.
Fans appreciate the accuracy with which the age is rendered. In other words, the realism of the production is a definite plus. The set and the quality acting weigh in to create the impression of a real-life story. But the selling point, as I believe, consists of something else.
The drama is about the struggles of a family to stick to their values and to keep close to each other in a time where the economic context would rather tear apart and shatter values down. It’s the Great Depression, it’s World War Two – moments which either consolidate that which is already close-knit and genuine, or break down that which is superficially manufactured (communities, principles and whatnot).
The Waltons exceptionally manages to awaken a sense of moral and affectionate emulation in its viewers. Family, honesty, sacrifice, education, faith, hope, all these are the staples of the scale of values underlying the TV drama. Values held in great respect by the ‘70s public. Moreover, values we all recognize as superior and try to abide by.
But have you noticed how, TV shows-wise, such standards don’t sell any more? Violence, sex, drugs, ignobleness, sarcasm, aggression, murder, mental pathology or any combo of the above have instead become the selling point of contemporary entertainment. I strongly doubt that youngsters used to consuming the products of a twisted show biz can recognize the worth of a drama like The Waltons.
There is yet another point I would like to make: on top of the obvious out-of-date quality of the show, the prospect of watching a 9-season series can dampen once initiative.
So, in the end, I’m tempted to go back to where I started: The Waltons remains one of the most re-watched shows of the ‘70s for the same reason it is highly unlikely to gain new viewers – different times, different values, different senses of entertainment. In brief, different worlds that won’t overlap so easily.