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Because I live to entertain, and because I make bad life choices, I have decided to recap 1985’s Civil War classic, North and South. Look for a new episode recap each day of Snark Week, and enjoy the frosted lipstick!
OH MY GOD THIS SHOW IS SO SLOW. I can’t believe I’m only on episode 3, and we’re still somewhere in the late 1840s (not that the costume or hair designers seem to be aware). There are dates constantly being flashed on screen — this one covers 1848 through 1854.
We begin with Priam, runaway slave from Swayze’s family’s plantation, still missing. Swayze and visiting boyfriend George come across him, George talks Swayze into letting him go, which Swayze does but warns George never to ask him to go against his people again. Priam is forced to, once again, overact through the whole thing.
George marries Perfect Blonde, while Swayze best-mans. Apparently women in the North have access to this technology called “day dresses” that is nowhere to be seen in the South. I don’t hate Perfect Blonde’s wedding dress, and I’m glad they went for non-white, as the whole “white wedding dress” thing happens much later.
Because Perfect Blonde is Irish, it’s a “private” wedding. In attendance are Number 1 (George’s brother) and it turns out Plastic Cameo is his wife, and she’s uber bitchy; sister VIRGILIA, brother Billy, and Northern Mom (who looks a lot like my mom did in her 30s-40s, which is weird).
There’s a wedding reception! I’m impressed by the long sleeves and high necks on the ladies, although I still feel like we’re in generic mid-Victorian rather than late 1840s-land.
VIRGILIA and Swayze have a moment where it seems like they might get along! I assume her hair is because she’s unmarried? Do 80-year-old spinsters wear their hair in long ringlets in this world?
Lest the day dresses fool you, we’re very committed to our Maybelline.
Northern Mom summons all the boys and wives to announce that she’s going to make Number 1 share director-ship of the iron company with George. Plastic Cameo is PISSED and vows to “get back what’s their’s.”
Swayze, George, and Perfect Blonde go to hear VIRGILIA speak at an abolitionist converence. She’s dolled up to the nines in a black sparkly evening gown, just the thing for railing about Southerners sexually abusing enslaved African Americans.
Frederick Douglass (without Frederick Douglass hair) is there as Virgilia’s opening act, which, really? Swayze is TOTES offended by Virgilia pointing out that there may be some fucked up sexual stuff going on in the slavery system.
Back in South Caro, David Carradine is pissy that Tits hasn’t given him a “man child” (what, is this The Jungle Book?) and is busying herself helping enslaved women give birth. Also, Maum Sally disappears beginning in this episode, with no explanation.
Tits heads to her and Swayze’s secret meeting place to reminisce, but Swayze actually turns up!
The two GET IT ON on a cloak, which seems uncomfortable. She’s got what I will charitably call a chemise, but no corset. THE SEX IS TENDER.
There’s a big explosion at the iron works, which is Number 1’s fault because he cancelled George’s order to reinforce some Stuff(TM). Northern Mom puts George in charge of things. Number 1 is pouty, but Plastic Cameo (his wife) is EVEN MORE PISSED OFF. She starts glowering and lurking through the rest of the episode.
Everyone has a sad! Southern Dad has died! Apparently we break out the long sleeves and high necklines for mourning, which is something. Swayze’s little sisters are all growed up. Slutty Brunette (Ashton) is busy being boy crazy instead of being sad, while Sweet Blonde (Brett — is that really a woman’s name?) makes sure that we can continue to match temperament to hair color.
Stop the presses! Trystan alerts me to the fact that Sweet Blonde is someone important:
We are introduced to a poor cousin who is living with Swayze’s family, Charles, who has bad hair and is not worthy of screencapping. We also hang a little bit more with Semiramis, who maybe someday will get to have some kind of actual role? She’s played by Erica Gimpel, who played CoCo on the TV version of Fame.
Swayze fires the sweaty overseer, who vows to have his revenge someday. This is followed by an overly long, overly jaunty scene in which poor cousin Charles gets into a fight with the sweaty overseer, none of which is screencap-worthy.
Slutty Brunette is also boy-crazy and bitchy to her sister.
There’s another boy-centric series of events in which Poor Cousin Charles gets challenged to a duel because of scampering with another man’s fiancée. Swayze trains him up to duel, and is impressed when Poor Cousin Charles actually wins the duel AND spares the other guy’s life. Apparently I am supposed to start caring about Poor Cousin Charles.
The Southern clan visits the Northern! The ladies break out the day dresses, except for Kirstie Alley/Virgilia who dresses so very girlie for someone who wants to be taken so seriously.
Slutty Brunette is so bitchy that once she finds out her sister is into George’s younger brother Billy, she sets out to catch him. Billy and Poor Cousin Charles become BFFs.
Virgilia tries to ‘splain politics to Southern Mom.
This pisses off Slutty Brunette, who (along with her sister) didn’t get the whole day dress memo. Virgilia volunteers to spend the rest of their visit in her room, which seems unnecessarily dramatic.
Slutty Brunette takes Billy to the garden to make out, and basically asks him to fuck her. He’s suddenly all “whoa, I knew she was slutty but I didn’t think she was THAT slutty!” His attention shifts to Sweet Blonde.
Southern Clan heads home, but not before insisting the Northern Clan come visit them in the next episode!
Back down south, Tits goes to her and Swayze’s special love spot only to find her hubby David Carradine getting it on with a slave, which basically involves rubbing the enslaved woman’s head and laughing uproariously. He’s pissed that he’s been caught, so chases down Tits and whips her. He rips her dress, which suddenly becomes magically unlaced, thus showing us her lack of corset or chemise. Swayze comes across post-whipped Tits and comforts her, offering to run away with her, but she says no because she knows David Carradine would just hunt them down.
Perfect Blonde asks George’s permission to use a room in their house for the Underground Railroad. He agrees, after seeing a runaway slave there being treated for whipping wounds. Again, the African American is just there to serve as a plot device, not in any way to have his own role or opinions.
Virgilia is DETERMINED to go to South Carolina to visit the Southern Clan. George, like me, knows that no good can come from this, but he agrees after Virgilia SWEARS she’ll be an angel. Uh huh.
Northern Clan sets off to visit Southern Clan, with Virgilia lurking ominously, waiting to fuck shit up!
Three more and I’m freeee!