Sylvia and the curse of developing early

Little known fact: I am a huuuuuge fan of Little House on the Prairie. If you’ve never watched it, you are so missing out. In fact, I find it to be surprisingly similar to Sweet Valley High. A little too similar! I could write a dissertation on the paralells between the two. Here’s the main similarities.

  • The morally superior family that needs to tell everyone how to live their lives and raise their families (The Ingalls/Wakefields)
  • Incredibly cheesy love interests (Johnny Johnson/Jason the science guy/Almanzo/Todd)
  • Dramatic events happening all the time: kidnapping, death, deception, people going blind
  • The rich, obnoxious townsfolk who think their money makes them superior (The Olsesons/The Patmans and Fowlers)
  • The idyllic town that anyone who doesn’t live in is missing out (Walnut Grove/Sweet Valley)
  • “Guest star” townspeople who are never heard from again after their featured episode (book)
  • Nellie Olsen = Jessica Wakefield

Thanks to the wonderful invention of TiVo, I can catch the episodes I love. Much to my joy, the two part “Sylvia” episode was on. You feelin’ me? Have you SEEN this one? It’s totally out of control, and ridiculous. It could be an SVH magna edition.

Sylvia is the new gal in school (why have we not seen her before?) and really fills out her prairie dress, if you know what I mean. The boys, including Albert and Willie, totally get all hot under their suspenders over her, because they are a bunch of horndogs. They sneak over to her house and try to peak at her. Her grouchy father thinks it’s because Sylvia teases them. So does Ms. Olsen. In fact, she calls a fucking school board meeting about it and calls Sylvia a cock tease in front of like, Doc Baker and Mr. Garvey and company. Mrs. Wilder (aka Liz Wakefield) defends her. [Also, I love how Laura went from pigtails in one episode to a neat bun in her hair and now she’s the sensible adult.]

So then…we see that some creepy guy is following her around and stalking her, and then one day in the meadow he puts on a mime mask and rapes her! Wow, Little House, you sure you want to go there?

She comes home and tells her father, and he is all “Trollop! Slut!” and tells her not to tell anyone. She freaks out the next day in school when some boy touches her and Doc Baker seems bruises on her body but her father scares the fuck out her so she says she fell.

Albert totally digs the post-traumatic syndrome and he and Sylvia start going out. [You know people are in love on LHOTP when they carve initials in a tree.] There’s this hilarious scene where the water is in the background and there is a closeup of he and Sylvia coming in slo mo towards each other, then a close-mouthed kiss. So horrid.

Oh, but wait! Sylvia collapses and school because she is preggers! Everone thinks it’s Albert! They decide to elope! Her father tries to send her away! He is punishing her for being raped! Btw, Albert is super fug as a teenager. In fact, most people on this show are quite unattractive. The exception being Alamonzo Wilder- what a bod!

So finally they decide to run away and elope and Sylvia hides in a barn while Albert gets supplies. Meanwhile, weird rapist comes after her and she runs up a latter, but the father shoots him. Sylvia falls of the ladder, and dies…but like four hours later. It’s all very tragic. And scandalous. When I saw this at age eight I was seriously confused. I think I still am.

Hmmmm, if people are game, I may write more about Little House, because there is much drama that happens down by Plum Creek.

61 thoughts on “Sylvia and the curse of developing early

  1. Stacie says:

    I haven’t watched Little House, but you can bet I tune into 7th Heaven for the hour before the Little House reruns come on Hallmark Channel. (Terrifying that I know this, eh? Been a very slow summer.) 7th Heaven is as big a train wreck!

  2. Laura @ Hungry And Frozen says:

    Holy cow, I don’t know much about Little House on the Prairie but for some reason I thought it was all uber-wholesome. Perhaps I’m thinking of the Waltons. Either way, it definitely sounds like Sweet Valley, only with less vanilla shakes and maillot bathing suits.

  3. Stacey says:

    I have all the SV Twins, Unicorns, High, Jr Year, Sr Year, and most of college and kids, AND I own all 9 season of LHOTP and the season 10 movie collection.

    I am starting to think a psychiatrist would have fun with me…I never made the connection between my two addictions until I read this! I’m kinda scared.

  4. BadKat says:

    Love Little House. The books too!!! But this one was totally creepy!! My friend and I have discussed the creepiness of the masked guy many times!!

    Do you remember the one where Laura steals her mom’s smelly perfume and puts apples in her shirt to look more grown up? And one of the apples falls out in school? Ha! Opposite end of the spectrum there.

  5. Jan says:

    LOVE Little House on the Prairie- it’s soooo SVH it’s not even funny! And I remember this episode! And the one where Albert got addicted to opium is a great one too!
    Almonzo Wilder is a lot hotter than Todd Wilkins!

  6. Chris says:

    What about when Albert set the blind school on fire with a pipe, and Alice Garvey used Mary’s baby to break the window to try to escape? Albert was just bad news.

  7. Daisy says:

    Thank God somebody else remembers this episode! I swear, I thought I had made it up somehow, even though, as a child, I had absolutely NO idea what was going on. What about that scene when Charles asks Albert if he got Sylvia pregnant, but he won’t just come out and ask if they had sex? It’s so very creepy.

  8. Jamie says:

    I think this episode traumatized me when I was little cuz I was terrified of the man in the mask….mainly cuz his mask looked like a clown. And I am afraid of fucking clowns, which is a whole other psychological issue lol. Anywho, I remember my mom wasn’t a fan of me watching this episode, but I did anyway because it was so scandalous for walnut grove.

    Loved “Manly” even tho I think today he’d be considered a perv.

    Loved Nellie Olsen, hated Nancy!

    I was always confused by how I thought Laura and Albert were supposed to be the same age but then one season she ends up in a bun, teaching and he’s still in the church/school/meeting hall/everything writing on chalk tablets….

  9. Becca says:

    I vaguely remember this episode too, but I thought that it was her father who raped her and that’s why he wore the mask? Where did I get that from?

    I used to love Little House so I netflixed Season 1 and I barely made it through the first disk. It was such a downer! Something sad happens to the Ingalls’ in every episode.

  10. Amber Tan says:

    I totes remember this 2-part LHOTP. In fact, my then-best friend and I had a hot debate over whether or not someone could *really* die by falling off a ladder. We concluded — in our 8 year old wisdom — that it was possible, but only if you fell on a rusty nail or broke your back on hidden debris.

    Does anyone else remember the episode in which Half-pint finds a baby and names her ‘Grace’ (the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s baby sister IRL)? It turns out that some poor girl got knocked up by her True Love but her father is a weird, religious crank. He doesn’t approve of their LOOOOOVE and hauls her off to an isolated cabin in the middle of the woods.

    The kicker is the father never knows his daughter is pregnant ’cause she wears a nightgown all the time and ends up giving birth alone in a cave near the cabin. She hides the baby by the river where Laura can find her. Of course the new mom is reunited with her baby and the Baby Daddy at the end of the show.

    BTW, the real-life Almanzo Wilder was a very handsome man. 🙂

  11. Amber Tan says:

    “I thought that it was her father who raped her and that’s why he wore the mask?”

    If memory serves, the village blacksmith was revealed as the weird masked rapist. And he manages a second attack on Sylvia because Albert, who was his apprentice, tries to ‘borrow’ some money from the till at the smithery. But Albert gets caught and ends up confiding their plan to run away to the blacksmith/ rapist.

    Yeah, Albert’s definitely not a catch. Petty theft, arson, substance abuse…and fugly to boot.

    Then again, it was mighty slim pickins’ on the prairie dating scene. I always wondered why Doc Baker wasn’t in more demand by the wimminfolk. I mean, despite being fugly, at least he was a DOCTOR ffs!

  12. Jen S says:

    OMFG I remember this one! The heaviness, the drama, the sleaze! Walnut Grove was the Melrose Place of the lone prairie!

    And who was that weird rapist guy? I distinctly remember him getting shot and his mask falling off, and it was one of the local townfolk, but I don’t remember it being her dad. Good thing Sylvia died so Albert could get all the martyr credit without having to do anything.

    More LHOTP please!

  13. Jen S says:

    Oh, and by the by, Televison Without Pity has some great recaps of this and other LH episodes. You have to do some digging but they’re in there.

  14. ihatewheat says:

    AT, I totes should have known you were a little house fan.

    “What about that scene when Charles asks Albert if he got Sylvia pregnant, but he won’t just come out and ask if they had sex? It’s so very creepy.”

    I KNOW! They can show a rape scene but can’t say the word “sex”. Also, when Doc Baker said Sylvia was “with child” I was so confused! And Albert is all “I didn’t! I never!” and ran off crying. Ha!

  15. Jane says:

    When my husband realized I had never watched the LH series, we started checking them out from the library. I made it up to season 10 then had to stop.

    We came up with the LH drinking game. Take a shot every time someone says “I’m sorry” or “It wasn’t me, honest” or when blame is falsely placed on another.

    I hated, hated, hated carrie so much. I kept pulling for something bad to happen to her, something really bad. But no, the brat can fall down a mine shaft and still live.

    One episode in particular sticks out in my mind. Mrs. Ingalls was baking pies for some kind of church social and her leg got hurt. Everyone left for the social leaving Mrs Ingalls behind to finish up, I think. The cut on her leg got infected, she got all feverish and nuts, and the way the story was progressing made you think she was about to cut off her leg.. but no, she was fine in the end.

  16. working rachel says:

    I saw this episode when I was 8 or 9 and it was *so* disturbing! I think it was one of the first times I’d heard about rape, and they had to make the rape as hideous as possible…creepy masked guy gets her PREGNANT and then she DIES.

  17. Amber Tan says:

    “Do you remember the one where Laura steals her mom’s smelly perfume and puts apples in her shirt to look more grown up? And one of the apples falls out in school?”

    Yep, I remember that one, BadKat. I recall the neighborhood girl with whom I was watching the show making some comment along the lines of, “How dumb. She should use Kleenex.” Ha!

    “AT, I totes should have known you were a little house fan. ”

    Oh yes, ihatewheat, just one of my many vices. And now — thanks to Jane — we can enhance this vice with the LHOTP drinking game. May I suggest adding the following phrases: “But Charles…” and “Pa! Mr. Edwards! Come quick!” 😉

    “when Doc Baker said Sylvia was “with child” I was so confused! And Albert is all “I didn’t! I never!” and ran off crying.”

    Me too! I was all like, “What happened? Albert didn’t do what? Mom…?” To which my Mom bluntly responded, “He means they NEVER HAD SEX.” Me: “Oh.” [pause] “Then why didn’t he *say* that?” Truly one of our finer mother-daughter moments — almost as precious as my 1st trip to the gyno. 🙂

    And here’s a picture of Almanzo Wilder: . FWIW, I thought he was much cuter than Dean Butler who played him in the TV series.

    ETA: OMG. Dean Butler has a LHOTP blog:

  18. Cat says:

    Yes! Please do more LHOTP!

    I’ve seen the Sylvia episode but had blocked it from my memory because of how horrifying it was.

  19. Heidi says:

    Long time reader, first time poster here.

    Sadly, I remember all the “Little House” episodes, but this one really sticks in my memory because it was so SHOCKING; in fact, I was just talking about it because I saw “Little House” the musical Saturday evening. (Melissa Gilbert played Ma).

    It was OK but sort of boring. I told my fiance it would have been more exciting if someone had gotten raped, pregnant, fell off a ladder and died or died in a fire started by two punks smoking a pipe or got held captive in a barn full of wild dogs while a wounded, muzzled mother wolf and her helpless cubs try to protect Laura, Andy and Carrie (another one of my favorite episodes).

  20. Eli says:

    I never saw this one…but the one I remember vividly is when Ma’s leg got infected while Pa and Co. were away and she was gonna cut it off herself. Grody! But also kinda awesome.

  21. Lacey says:

    I love LHOTP! As goofy as it sounds, I watch it every day, lol. One of the perks of working from home, imo. This episode was scandalous! I just love how Albert was trying to be all noble about the whole rape thing – chivalry is obviously not dead in Walnut Grove.

  22. e says:

    Wow! I had no idea LHOTP was so scandalous. All I remember is like, horses and cute boys and Nellie having a birthday party or something. I guess I read the books more than watching the show, but apparently I was missing out!

  23. Robyn says:

    I don’t remember this one, unless I blocked it out since it sounds incredibly disturbing!

    And Jan, I totally remember the Albert addicted to opium one. I think I was astounded that they had drugs out there in the prairie! What a scandal!

  24. Amber Tan says:

    ” I saw “Little House” the musical Saturday evening. (Melissa Gilbert played Ma).”

    Thanks for the drama review, Heidi. Saw that on Dean Butler’s LHOTP blog and was curious…sounds like the producer/director followed the books more than the television series. And I loooved the wolf-protecting-the-kids-in-the-barn episode too! But what was up with the Ingalls’ brood constantly growing? Charles and Caroline adopted, like, five kids just to prolong the show a few more seasons.

    “I read the books more than watching the show, but apparently I was missing out!”

    Not so much, e. Besides IMO the book is always better than the movie…and I never fail to point out every single inaccuracy and/ or and discrepancy. As my long-suffering SO can testify, we haven’t watched a movie together in a theatre since 2002. He’s a good man, but even he has his limits. 😉

    ” totally remember the Albert addicted to opium one. I think I was astounded that they had drugs out there in the prairie!”

    Albert = Regina Morrow?

    ihatewheat, I think you’re really on to something here with all the correlations between LHOTP and SV.

  25. Sada says:

    Ha ha, more Prairie! I didn’t watch a ton of LHOTP growing up, so I didn’t realize how ludicrous it was until I caught some reruns a few years ago. I think what tipped me off was Mary’s blind husband getting hit on the head and having his vision is magically restored. Awesome.

    Did not see the creepy rape episode (sadly!), but it sounds suspiciously like Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

  26. Kathryn says:

    I love the books, never got into the show, but I did catch the part of this episode. I think it was the first half. DISTURBED!

    Did we ever find out who the bad guy was?

  27. BadKat says:

    Amber Tan,
    JEALOUS!!! I saw the advertisements for this on television and want to go, but the one who shared my Little House love is gone 😦

    And the books were way better. And to point out a huge discrepancy, they DID NOT LIVE IN WALNUT GROVE. Trust me, I live in Minnesota…
    I have even been to Walnut Grove, and Sleepy Eye too!

  28. kristin says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen little house on the prairie, but I think I might have to get it on netflix now…

    But speaking of ridiculous tv shows- does anyone watch “The secret life of the american teenager” on abc family?!?! It’s delightfully ridiculous.

  29. Aseya says:

    I remember this episode, when the guy was about to rape Sylvia my mum switched the TV off and told me to play outside. I was really miffed off and remeber watching it a few years later thinking that scene wasn’t the type of thing that was going to traumatize me!
    I used to watch it on a sunday morning after Land of the Giants on Channel 4. I used to love it at the time. Not quite sure how I feel about it now though.

  30. NoseInANovel says:

    I was home sick a few years ago, sacked out on the couch for a week, and watched this two parter one morning.

    Wasn’t sure if my memory of it was a product of flu-halllucination, or not. …Seems I was pretty right on. Wow.

    Loved the books, will watch the show, but have to think of them as seperate entities.

  31. Lemur says:


    My entire world is in a tizzy.

    I always thought Sylvia got raped by a mime. Now, I find out it was the blacksmith wearing a mask. I like my version better.

  32. Amber Tan says:

    ” saw the advertisements for this on television and want to go but the one who shared my Little House love is gone”

    Sorry to hear of your loss, BadKat. 😦 Perhaps you can bamboozle, er, persuade someone to accompany you. And I agree 100% — the books were better.

    ETA: Wait, I think you meant address Heidi? She saw the show but if we wait long enough it’ll probably be posted online somewhere.

    “Land of the Giants”

    Awesome show, Aseya! I can’t believe you remember the line-up. 😉

    “Loved the books, will watch the show, but have to think of them as seperate entities.”

    Wise choice, NoiseInANovel. 🙂

    “I always thought Sylvia got raped by a mime. Now, I find out it was the blacksmith wearing a mask. I like my version better.”


  33. Jane says:

    “I always thought Sylvia got raped by a mime. Now, I find out it was the blacksmith wearing a mask. I like my version better.”

    Mr Dorefler is the rapist? Or did the town get a new smith by that time?

  34. Cheapnevil says:

    Probably you should do more Little House. My bff made up a drinking game that was posted on another recap site. Even those who know nothing about the show, snicker at the game.

  35. Deathy says:

    I must’ve never seen the good episodes. My brother had a tape of three episodes he used to watch this every morning before the bus and got him and I had to sit with him and watch for the bus from the window and now run away in terror every time someone so much as mentions watching Little House.

  36. Emily says:

    Sada, I agree! It does seem a lot like ToDU…. only the girl doesn’t get with a nobleman and meets up with a priest. But she does get killed in the end.

  37. Fraser says:

    I guess I gave up on Little House too soon in my youth. Rapist mime blacksmiths, goodness.

    For implausible fatality, I remember a Beauty and the Beast episode where the villain dies from being hit in the back with a shuriken, standards and practices balking at the star hitting an actual vulnerable spot.

  38. audrey says:

    Oh my god, I totally remember this double feature. LHOTP snark would be most welcome!

    You might also consider doing an homage recap of the Anne of Green Gables mini series….?

  39. LimeGreenTriumph says:

    Oh man, it’s been YEARS since I watched Little House. The area where LIW grew up IRL in her younger years is close to where I’m from, so I’ve been to some of the sites, and the books are big around here.
    I kind of get a Mr. Collins vibe from the doctor. The school teacher definitely is Ms. Dalton. But I get a Liz/Jess vibe from Mary/Laura, and Nellie is more Lila. And I imagine Mrs. Oleson to be quite similar to Mrs. Patman.
    Does anyone remember when the girl Jenny cut all her hair off and they found out during the school play or something and it was a big scandal? For some reason that one stuck with me.

  40. Chris says:

    I remember that one, Lime! Jenny sold her hair so she could buy her mom a dress to wear to the school play. And Jenny was left with the second worst haircut in all of Walnut Grove, after Miss Beadle’s permed mullet bun.

  41. Dwanollah says:

    And then Jenny and her mom and her mom’s boyfriend went the way of all other Prairie Tertiaries, like Gimpy Olga, Fat Elmer, Joseph Spotted Eagle, A-a-a-anna and G-g-g-gideon, the Wild Boy, Albert’s pet cow Fagan, etc., etc., etc…..

  42. eejm says:

    My mother-in-law still refuses to believe this episode exists, insisting that it could not as LHOTP is Wholesome Family Programming. I’m tempted to tape the episode and prove it, but I kind of don’t want to rock her happy world. Watching this particular episode isn’t exactly the way I want to bond with her, either.

  43. Dwanollah says:

    eejm, there are ten million other unwholesome LHOTP eps to prove your point! For instance….

    1) Mary’s baby becomes a crispy-fried battering ram at the blind school
    2) Pa builds a giant stone schlong that is struck by lightning to “heal” brain-dead James
    3) Miss Peel!!!!!
    4) Knocked-up teen gives birth in a mud cave and leaves baby there
    5) Pa’s Pa tries to burn himself up
    6) Albert Barfs Drugs
    7) Crazy old lady fakes her own death to attend her funeral and get her kids to pay attention to her
    8) Any drawn-out childbirth scene with the whole “PUUUUUSH! PUUUUUSH!” thing
    9) Albert’s fatal nosebleed
    10) Ma tries to cut off her leg

    • says:

      Oh God, I remember the second one. It was rather creepy watching the normally reasonable Pa go apeshit trying to heal James. I mean, good on him for believing the boy could live, but holy shit. And I remember Albert barfing the drugs all too clearly.

      I don’t remember any examples of 8…didn’t they usually cut that out and then announce the baby had arrived/reveal that the mother didn’t survive?

  44. eejm says:

    “2) Pa builds a giant stone schlong that is struck by lightning to “heal” brain-dead James”

    HA!!! What the…? This is one episode I’ve never seen or heard about. It’s proof that the episodes got progressively more bizarre over the years.

    By weird coincidence, a co-worker and I got in an in-depth discussion about the Albert-Smack episode just a few days ago. (“Do you remember the LOOK on Albert’s face just before he coughs up all the drugs???”)

  45. identicalgoldlavalieres says:


    Don’t forget “My Ellen” as one of the top horrifying episodes of that wholesome family fare LHOTP. I still have nightmares about that one. I am 38 years old and still can’t bring myself to watch that ep, although I am always up for The Giant Schlong of Healing Goodness or “MLINE?? I’m going MLINE??” God I hate Mary.

  46. Jennifer says:

    OMG- I remember the Jenny haircut one. LHOTP was appointment viewing at my house in the early 80s. 99% certain that Albert was addicted to morphine though- he was in med school if I recall and opium wouldn’t give you that insane withdrawal

  47. upstatestruggler says:

    holy crap! I have been gone too long!
    Quit my job and spend zero time online these days but just jumped on to check my bank statement and, of course, the burger. wheat, you’re still a fookin’ genius.
    love, the struggler

  48. Jennifer says:

    oops, my bad- opium does give you awful withdrawal- but still pretty sure it was morphine he was taking- either way what a traumatizing epsiode for a 10 year old!

  49. gracie926 says:

    Wow, I love you!!!
    This site is awesome, and I am a diehard LHOTP fan. Have the books, the calendar, a lapel pin (I am not kidding!)
    OK remember the episode where the townspeople all eat meat infected with anthrax-Pa being away, (of course, or he would know right away this meat was tainted) Caroline being, of course, immune. So Caroline is wrapping up dead bodies left and right, but the town’s population never decreases!!! And the wind is HOWLING throughout the episode.
    And the one where Mary and Adam are in a wagon accident, and Mary’s glasses catch the sun, igniting a fire? Pa drives by, of course, and recognizes right away that MARY IS IN TROUBLE!!!
    OK, Pa is hot. Could you ASK for a better dad?

    • says:

      Oh, speaking of Mary did anyone else ever realize just how much the show seemed to get off on her suffering? The blind thing I can understand since that was based off of real life, but needing surgery because a kick from a horse made her deathly ill, losing TWO babies, and a bunch of other stuff I’m probably forgetting? Oh, and the show gave her a chance to get her sight back only for her to LOSE that chance. Damn.

  50. says:

    For a show touting “wholesome family values” this one sure had plenty of nightmare fuel and illicit goings-on. I definitely remember “Sylvia”, as well as brain-dead James, the fire at the school, and Albert’s drug withdrawl. Oh, and what about the anthrax episode where we were treated to a child’s corpse or two? Or the carriage crash that killed the parents of those orphans? And the “wild boy” episode with the kid being force-fed morphine?

    Were the books nearly as melodramatic and creepy later on? I’ve only read “Big Woods” and “Plum Creek” and those seem pretty tame.

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