Pro­hi­bi­tion

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Satur­day, 8.30pm, SBS One Wel­come to SBS’s Pro­hi­bi­tion Satur­day. First up, the de­but of this ex­cel­lent five-part se­ries about the pe­riod in US his­tory, from 1920 to 1933, when the coun­try banned the sale, man­u­fac­ture and trans­porta­tion of al­co­hol for con­sump­tion by cit­i­zens. Metic­u­lously re­searched and elo­quently pre­sented, the whole story of how Pro­hi­bi­tion came to be is told. Amer­i­cans had been ar­gu­ing from the early 1800s about what to do with the drunken sailor. That dis­cus­sion led to an amend­ment to the US con­sti­tu­tion and overnight the edict turned mil­lions of law-abid­ing cit­i­zens into law­break­ers. The pro­gram asks the ques­tion: how does a free­dom-lov­ing na­tion that is built on in­di­vid­ual rights and lib­er­ties de­cide that in one crazed mo­ment it can tell peo­ple how to live their lives? In price­less old pho­to­graphs, rivers of al­co­hol are seen be­ing tipped into drains. Learned his­to­ri­ans ex­plain the po­lit­i­cal process that led to the amend­ment of the con­sti­tu­tion and how Amer­i­cans chose to ig­nore their own his­tory dur­ing Pro­hi­bi­tion. The hold of the Mayflower, the first ship that car­ried pu­ri­tans to Mas­sachusetts, was filled with bar­rels of beer. Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton in­sisted that his men have a half cup of rum ev­ery day and a half a cup whiskey when the rum ran out. John Adams be­gan each day with a tankard of hard cider and Thomas Jef­fer­son col­lected fine French wines and dreamed of the day when Amer­i­can vine­yards could match them. It is fas­ci­nat­ing to see how the tem­per­ance move­ment evolved, then stalled dur­ing the Civil War. It was set back again when waves of im­mi­grants with their own cul­tures of al­co­hol con­sump­tion ex­panded into Amer­i­can towns and cities. But then, with the emer­gence one of the first women’s move­ments in the US, tem­per­ance gath­ered power once more. Riv­et­ing tele­vi­sion fol­lowed by episodes one and two of the de­but se­ries of the HBO Pro­hi­bi­tion era ex­trav­a­ganza Board­walk Em­pire. which a guest car­toon­ist dis­cusses the week’s car­toons. This week’s panel con­sists of Tin­gle, Me­ga­lo­ge­nis and Crabb.

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