The Importance of Period Piece Programming

When we become writers or dream of becoming writers we are told that we must read. While this is true enough in itself, I also feel that writers must all watch television and movies to get a sense of what is also possible in our chosen genres of fiction. Granted, with reading we get to use our imagination of how a setting might look or even a character for that matter while watching a television show or movie you get someone else’s interpretation of how a character might act or how a setting might look. While that being said, I really want to focus on historical, or rather period piece programming.

While I’m not a fan of historical fiction, let alone historical romance, there is something about occasionally sitting down and watching a film based on the past, such as James Cameron’s Titanic, or even CBS’s Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. I have always enjoyed being transported to another place and time, looking at the costumes and listening to the issues that they dealt with at the time. Well, last night I was watching Masterpiece on PBS which is currently running the latest season of Victoria. If you don’t know Victoria is based on the life and marriage of Queen Victoria. While I was watching last night’s episode, it was amazing to see the costumes while at the same time seeing the dynamic between some of the characters. Especially with two of them being men and having a romantic interest in each other, while that was a huge taboo back during Queen Victoria’s day, it was interesting to hear from the actors who were playing these two characters state that while there is no record of homosexuality during that time, we have to assume that it did happen.

Granted, there are two takes here we all know what happens when you assume, “You make an a** out of you and an a** out of me.” But on the second account, we know that any more a lot of televisions shows are raising up the topic of homosexuality for one reason or another. But my point was much rather it was interesting to see the dynamic and how the writers chose to add this part to a historical period show, such as Victoria.  Again it comes down to someone’s interpretation of what was going on during that time.

However, getting back on topic, Masterpiece on PBS is also the channel that brought us Downton Abbey, which hugely popular being and was another period piece. But more often we find ourselves turning to period pieces and enjoying them like wine or a good chocolate. Why is that? The answer is simple we want to escape to another time and place.

While I enjoy the occasional western or episode of Downton Abbey, I more enjoy medieval period pieces. Granted, it wasn’t all bed of roses but there is just something about the dresses that the women wore that were royalty and listening to the way that they spoke to one another, which is equally entertaining.

Given that we are writers, we must pay attention to if we are writing period pieces or adding some of their mannerisms into our works of fiction. Period pieces of fiction whether they are books, movies or television programs can be a huge tool for us in our toolboxes. Furthermore, we can also research the time to make sure that we are getting the historical events, speech and other mannerisms that impacted humans accurately in our work.

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