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1. In the first episode, Dr. Quinn performs some sort of procedure - it's unclear whether it was a c-section or an episiotomy - during a difficult labor. The patient recovers quickly, there's no mention of possible infection or anything they would have done to prevent infection, and we see that woman up and around again shortly. In reality, the risk of infection would have been high, and if the procedure had been a c-section, the odds of her surviving would have been very low. The show was set in 1867, and in 1867, c-sections were hugely risky.
2. In the first couple of episodes, Robert E. and Grace, two African-American characters on the show, are treated just the same as everyone else. Later, the show's writers realized that they'd made a mistake and started adding in some racism and whatnot to make the show more realistic, but that was a huge oversight. The Civil War ended in 1865, just two years previous, and emotions would have been sky high on both sides of the question.
3. In 1867, children were expected to be obedient and respectful. This was simply how they were raised from the cradle. Throughout the series, we see Colleen rolling her eyes and Matthew and Brian doing various different rebellious things, all of which would be common for children today, but back then? Try that one time and you'd be out behind the woodshed with a switch. Writing the children's characters this way is taking modern thoughts and superimposing them on historical characters, and it just doesn't work.
4. Going along with that ... as Dr. Mike and Sully get closer, she confides in Dorothy that she's never been with a man, and Dorothy is shocked. Again, that's putting modern thought into a setting where it doesn't belong. Yes, women and men did sleep together before marriage, but it certainly wasn't as common as it is today, and a woman who did spend time with her beau in that way was considered the dregs of society. A woman of Dr. Mike's social standing would be expected to wait until marriage, and it was odd of Dorothy to be so surprised that she was still a virgin.
Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoy the show a lot and will continue watching the series. I'm just suggesting that as we watch these shows that are set in historical eras but aren't 100% based on history, we keep in mind that not all the details are going to be accurate, and that we don't create pictures in our minds of how things were just from this information alone.
Amelia C. Adams is the author of the Kansas Crossroads series, the Nurses of New York series, the Hearts of Nashville series, and a contributor to the American Mail-Order Brides series and Brides of Beckham. She also takes very, very long naps. She believes this is a good idea. You can learn more about her at www.ameliacadams.com. Click here to download her first novel free.