When a TV series takes place in the past, writers, set designers, and prop masters do their best to make sure that all the details are historically accurate. But sometimes they make mistakes. This was first published in our 29th annual edition, Uncle John’s Uncanny Bathroom Reader.
Happy Days (1974–84)
Scene: Howard, Marion, and Joanie Cunningham are on their way to the movies. Ralph asks them what they’re going to watch, and Joanie says Psycho, the Alfred Hitchcock thriller.
Goof: The episode is set in 1957. Psycho wasn’t released until 1960.
Little House on the Prairie (1974–83)
Scene: The unnamed, white-bearded owner of a chain of fried chicken restaurants comes to town and offers Mrs. Oleson a chance to buy a franchise. She refuses the offer.
Goof: The man is strongly suggested to be Colonel Sanders, and his restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken. But Sanders was born in 1890, opened his first restaurant in 1930, and started franchising in 1952. Little House takes place in the 1870s.
Mad Men (2007–15)
Scene: Advertising executive Don Draper coins a new slogan for Lucky Strike cigarettes: “It’s toasted.”
Goof: The show is set in the 1960s, and Lucky Strike first used that slogan in 1917.
Downton Abbey (2010–15)
Scene: Lady Edith visits a doctor in London. The nameplate outside his office includes the prefix “Dr.”
Goof: The sign also says “FRCS,” which means the doctor is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. In the 1920s, British doctors who belonged to this order would have been listed as “Mr.”, not “Dr.”
The Tudors (2007–10)
Scene: King Henry VIII gets married several times. Each time, his bride wears a white dress.
Goof: Wearing a white bridal gown wasn’t traditional in Europe until Queen Victoria of England popularized the style in 1840. The Tudors is set in the 1500s.