There’s nothing like “The Waltons.” a fine, wholesome family television series.
The Waltons provided audiences with such amazing insight into the hardships and repercussions of the Great Depression and World War II that most Americans have never encountered outside of textbooks today.
The series was inspired by the book Spencer’s Mountain and Earl Hamner Jr., its creator, who grew up in the Virginia backwoods and integrated his childhood into the series. Family is one of the main themes in The Waltons, and viewers appreciated the sincerity of its imperfections. What fans don’t know: Olivia was initially going to be presented as the “perfect” mother before her input was provided by Michael Learned.
What was “The Waltons” about?
A diverse family with a mother and father, a grandpa and grandma, and six kids followed the television series ‘The Waltons.’ At the beginning and at the end, when he is much older, it is narrated by ‘John-Boy,’ although he is only around 17 when the first season starts.
The family, from the Great Depression to World War II, works together, suffers and overcomes many obstacles.
Throughout the series’ nine seasons, the family grows tremendously, and audiences see the six children grow from carefree, barefoot children to adults with responsibilities.
At that time, the Waltons gave viewers incredible insight into Southern hospitality, family, and the effect of World War II on families – such as four children being drawn into the military, as well as friends from the neighborhood being sent to the military.
Since the series debuted between 1972 and 1980, for its realism of the South, its times, and its lessons and commitment to family and community, The Waltons has always been highly regarded.
Critics of Common Sense Media now say, “This is the kind of series we need today!” and “Just about every episode has an important lesson about family values and social responsibility.”
The role of Olivia in ‘The Waltons’
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Olivia is John Walton’s wife and the mother of six children, including Jason, Mary-Ellen, Jim-Bob, John-Boy, Ben, and Elizabeth. She is a rather religious person who, at the drop of a hat, will quote from the Bible.
And while she is a churchgoer, she respects the right of her husband to choose his own path (of course, not without trying!).
Also, she was very devoted, kind, motherly and compassionate to her family. She may have been the sweetest girl you’ve ever met, but she didn’t tolerate bad behavior, violence, or bad manners. She was also a staunch supporter of retribution when kids misbehaved, if she thought it was appropriate. For mothers (even today) who care about their families, their finances, their lives and their society, she is a great example.
Who Learned is and how she pressured Earl Hamner Jr., the creator/writer.
The caring mother Olivia was played by Michael Learned, also named “Miss Michael Learned” in the opening credits. She brought to life a realistic version of the mother of the Great Depression and World War II, who is devoted and engaged with her family, but refuses to hear or address the war in which her sons play an important role. We almost couldn’t see this perfectly-imperfect mother on the frame, though, and it wouldn’t be the same!
One interesting truth about The Waltons, according to MeTV, is that Learned urged Earl Hamner Jr. to make Olivia less perfect than expected.
They report a Smashing Interviews Magazine interview in which Learned says, “I think that was part of the charm of the show, that we weren’t perfect – at least not for the first two years.”
She tells Hamner, “You have to let Olivia make a mistake and punish the wrong child or something that’s a little more human.” Learned asked Hamner, “Earl, didn’t your mother ever do anything wrong?” Because Hamner based the series on his childhood, he said “No,” but happily agreed to let some imperfections in.
This is not the first time his role has been heavily influenced by an actress, but it is definitely one that was a key factor in enhancing the series.
Without Michael Knew, The Waltons may not have been the same, and viewers might have had a more unrealistic family experience. Although the mother of Hamner might have been “perfect,” many may agree that this ideal for most families is unrealistic.