45 thoughts on “SNARK WEEK RECAP: North & South (1985), Episode 4

  1. I have never seen North and South…never even heard of it before (I…was not around in the 80’s…), but now I’m tempted to find it just so I can be greatly entertained by this ridiculousness myself…

  2. One of my favorite games is “where else have I seen that actor?”. I’m a General Hospital fan from way back, so I recognized Genie Francis right away, but I just realized that Poor Cousin Charles is also Perfect Tommy from Buckaroo Banzai (swoon).

    Count me among the fans of these recaps – I had no idea North and South was such a soap opera! Thank you for watching … so we don’t have to!

    1. I’ve been saying to Spouse all week that the recaps are making me want to watch this trainwreck, but I kinda don’t want to cough up the $18 to do so. However, Perfect Tommy?! That sound might just be me trying to shove my credit card into the steamy dark underbelly of the Apple TV to get my fix.

  3. Y’know, I could have SWORN I watched this back in the day, but not a single thing is looking familiar. Maybe I read it? Ah well, the 1980s were lost to childbirth and sleepless nights…

    1. Don’t forget that there were TWO rival Civil war mini series. North & South and The Blue & Grey. My Mother and Grandmother watched both. I remember that N&S was more soapy fun while B&G was better storytelling

  4. I love you guys! This is so funny. I remember watching N&S a couple of years ago and was left all ‘wtf’

    Let the snark flow
    Love from Norway

  5. You will laugh about me, but it was this miniseries that started my interest for period films and history of fashion and art. When I first watched “North and South” I was eight (of course my mom would send me out of the room when things were getting “hot”) and thought that the women in the series looked like beautiful princesses in their gowns.
    But on a more serious note, I just cannot imagine that a professional costume designer created these terrible costumes of her own free will ..

  6. If it weren’t for the presence of recognizable actors, this recap would make me think this is a high budget soft core porn of Gone with the Wind.

  7. And to think nobody forced us to watch this at the time! Anyway, I salute your courage under fire! And I remember that STD Georges sister, aka Virgilia, made me very uncomfortable at the time: She was just about the only one espousing the right side, but her literal Obsession with interracial sex, either hers or anyone else, was quite “out there”… Not only the white woman/black man thing had raised riots and killed a whole lot of POCs on rumors only, it was a nono for abolitionists… But hey, wasn’t the revival of the South and all their “values” (cough cough!) a big thing in the eighties?

  8. Just to clarify, Genie Francis’ Shawl started life as a Shower Curtain was the exact same lace used for my bridesmaid dress at my best friend’s wedding. Trust me when I say I was really happy she chose that option. The yellow southern belle dress that she made me try on (with the parasol) would have put me over the edge.

      1. I was never forced to be in one of those Southern belle weddings, but omg this is the look of every homecoming court every year I was in high school (Atlanta in the 80’s).

  9. Was there a huge SALE of neylon lace mitts around the shooting area? I see no other explanation for this horror… This is the best part of this series! Every dress looks 1840s-y, 1860s-y, but none 1850s-y! Oh, and hats: where are the derpy bonnets? It wasn’t a big hit in the south… R.I.P Maum Sally :(

    1. Those nylon mitts are VERY on trend for 1985. That was during the Madonna “Like a Virgin” phase. you could get 3 for $5.00 in all the local flea markets.

  10. I … saw this when it came out.
    And … then I went off to read the books.
    Unfortunately, the use of AA characters (whether slave or free) is about accurate for the books. Although Virgilia is not as strident and whacko in the books.

  11. The series is pretty faithful to the book, interns of both Ashton’s idiopathic uttiness and Virgilia’s messianic abolitionism that really doesn’t take the souls of individual people of color into account.
    I read the books and watched the series whenI was in middle school and I thought it was the most amazing thing ever, both interns of epic story telling and periodcoatume.
    Now I see it for what it is: soft-core porn in JoAnn Fabrics sale fabric.
    (Anyone else worried for Virgilia when she lights up? Between the Aquanet and the acetate, one spark and she’d burn like a Fourth of July lighter-fluid-doused pile of briquettes!)

  12. Tits` POC grandmother is so Yvonne DeCarlo, Clark Gable and a very young Sidney Poitier movie called Band of Angel’s.
    If Slutty Sister doesn’t clean up her act, she’s going to resemble the syphilis man in the first episode of The Alienist.

  13. You always lure me in with photos that look like they’ve all gone goth, which I love, and then I stick around for the social commentary and prom dresses and hair–and thanks for no more smooch gifs today!


    And dear lord, I’ve always found Kirstie Alley to be pretty, but in that pic just short of gang signs, she couldn’t possibly look more like a man in a dress -_- Was this an actual promo/publicity shot? If so, how did they not burn it? Was it the only photo they even took of the couple? Please understand that I say all of this as an absolutely non-photogenic person who (for real) looks either like a corpse or somehow f’ed up in 98% of photos. She’s a woman you can actually take actual, usable photos of. Why would they use this one? So many questions.

    Also, wasn’t it obvious why MS had to be killed off? She was the only one even remotely sensibly dressed in this sea of both highly flammable and highly questionable wardrobe choises. No matter how much she tried, she just wasn’t fitting in.

    1. I think the only reason for the gang sign picture is that riding hat. It’s too shiny and the flower is fake but I kind of like it.

  15. I remember watching this on Sundays afternoon ( I am French and though I didn’t know most if not all actors, I knew the dubbing voices who voiced also my favorite cartoon and anime characters, just imagine the shock!) and it had quite the forbidden fruit taste due to all the naughty stuff going on ^^ But your articles make my day, really!
    About Slutty Ashton, I remember that in Gone with The Wind it’s mentioned that Southern Belles have no idea of sex before their wedding night, and though as you said they lived in basically updated bug farms and so dogs and horses mating, I guess they weren’t told about… Well about everything Ashton seems to know ( can’t wait to read your analysis of her evolution, it’ll be delicious)

  16. I guess I was jumping the gun on the last episode, because this episode demonstrates my point about the apparently quick skip to the sack so many characters seem to do. Brunette is just bizarre, but maybe the stranger thing is that apparently no one discovered her and her dozen or more guys? Despite being in essentially a public place, going missing from her family for a while, during daytime I presume)? And somehow this will make another guy jealous, instead of disgusted (in the morals of the day which, to be fair, only like 2 characters seem to give a shit about).

    But Virgilia and Grady… that really does make no sense—start a friendship, sure, discuss escaping, okay end up married later, could happen. But sex so quickly? During a party or what have you? And it makes even less sense for Grady to agree—African American men who “preyed on” white women (regardless of how consensual it actually was—or if they even did anything) would be lucky to escape with their lives. That is too big a risk for a barn shag; I have a hard time believing a slave would toss his life out the window for a woman he met that night who the minute he touched her would have enough to basically get him killed if she decided she didn’t like him.

    1. Ok, I found this so implausible that I had to watch it. I’m not going to watch much more but at 25 minutes I’ve hit the party and the Virgilia/Grady thing.

      For the party, I know they’re making Brunette sex-crazed but that unsubtle innuendo was super cringeworthy and out of place.

      The Virgilia/Grady thing I guess is at their second meeting, where she ditches her other slave escort to park herself in a broken carriage in the rain with Grady, who raises all the right objections and then just… doesn’t care? And all the complications get brushed under the rug of him saying, basically, I’m doing this for me, too, not just you. But the whole thing was he basically guessed she was propositioning him, and she did seem more interested in transgressing racial boundaries than him as a person… it’s really just kind of objectifying, maybe a bit of a fetish. That’s really shitty considering the power imbalances.

      And then she just admits to helping him escape? Forget the risk to her (it probably was a criminal offense). He had barely left—he was being hunted. Once you know one link in a chain you tug hard enough and you get the rest of it. It put him at risk.

      You really are suffering for us, Kendra. Shitty plot, shitty writing, shitty costumes, shitty hair, shitty accents. Who the hell thought this was a good idea? I feel really sorry for the 80s if this was the prestige tv of its day.

  17. Wow, I have a feeling that in quite many cases the people who made costumes overshoot by good couple of decades! The top half of Perfect Blonde’s first red dress is quite perfect for 1895, though the skirt should be different. Virgilia and Blonde Mom (I never remember which mother comes from where) from the same ball should also feel right at home at that time, which doesn’t make their dresses good, of course. Virgilia’s red and black dress again has 1895 silhouette (what I can see of it) and her white high-necked dress is quite 1900s. So is Tit’s pink and grey riding suit – that bolero jacket and pointed waist (it should be a belt) is perfectly 1900s, even the colour scheme fits, although it’s wrong for a riding suit. For a walking suit it would be OK.

    One more thing – my expertise is more second half of the century and I’m not American, so I might have it wrong, but general rule was that young unmarried women did not wear much jewellery, and certainly not precious stones. Some pearls or turqouises would be fine, but what Virgilia is constantly bedecked with would be way, way too much. It would be probably considered vulgar for a married woman, but a definite no-no for an unmarried one.

    1. Yesterday I searched for 1980s prom queen photos in pinterest, and I can tell you I had found exactly the same colored, same designed prom dress of VIRGILIA’s! Only the girl’s hair was more 1980s, than victorian-y :D I really recommend this to have a fun time!

  18. I was a huge fan of these shows/books in about junior high, as was my mom. It was one thing we enjoyed doing together. So here are a few insights:

    John Jakes, author of the books, is known for this type of salacious material. Think of it as Fifty Shades meets historical fiction. His Kent chronicles are very similar, and the sex-crazed female is a common trope.
    Virgilia is not of sound mind. Her crazed abolitionism is meant to contrast with Constance’s more personal approach. I think it’s meant to make a statement about making real change versus just putting on a show or something.
    Northern Mom was also the housekeeper in Benson, so another major TV star from the time period.

    BTW, LOVE the nickname “Tits” for Madeline. Perfection.

  19. OMG I am so proud to be quoted on Frock Flicks!!! Will hike my skirt up all day in homage.

    The Slutty Brunette subplot reeks of the “Southern women are always in heat” trope and that’s some pretty blatant exploitation for prime time TV! I wonder that they did not go full “black stud” with any of the male POC characters… well, there are a few more episodes to go.

  20. there is simply no excuse for such poor costuming and appalling make up, not even in the 70s and 80s. Even low budget Aussie productions at that time made an effort to be historically accurate. I was working in a historical theme park in the early 80s. Staff turning up wearing make up were sent home. We had to have centre parted hair, wear bonnets and gloves when we ventured outdoors, high neck lines during day, under collars and under sleeves which made sense as they needed regular washing saving washing the entire dress which took a couple of hours to iron with an electric iron. Must have taken most of the day with flat irons. We were not wearing the correct amount of petticoats and only management got to have hoops unless it was for a special occasion. The costume department was responsible for costuming many Aussie films made at that time so I know that they were at least attempting to get fabrics which looked period appropriate. Wearing red was a no no, as was bold prints, synthetic fabrics and nylon lace. I made a couple of bonnets which had to be approved before I could wear them.
    Anyway enough of that. Once again, I have to say how much I am enjoying being appalled by these recaps.

  21. Oh good lord, the fucked-up-ery of all of this! My favourite line from this post: 1830s goes to space. If I wasn’t already finished my tea I’d have spit it at my screen!

  22. When you got to the graduation scene, I was almost impressed, thinking I was looking at a different show . ( The dresses looked almost historical though obviously in the wrong era). Thank goodness we went back to the what the heck in the next scene .

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