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Easterns as a Genre - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Easterns as a Genre
It's not very often that I spot a new genre, but I just clocked one in Terramagne.

Easterns are related to Westerns, set in the same time period of roughly 1865-1900, but in the eastern and more urban part of America. In this regard they're almost mirror images of each other, with Easterns focusing on cities, civilization, and society rather than wilderness. Subgenres include soap opera, comedy of manners, legal/crime drama, and the hugely popular Boston marriage centering on a lesbian or queerplatonic relationship. Although Westerns tend to be dominated by men, Easterns feature far more women. Another interesting aspect is the color psychology. Whereas most Westerns use a warm palette, most Easterns use a cool palette.


The Blue Collar Boys is a 1950s soap opera about working-class men and their families during the industrial revolution. Set in Chicago, it captures the tensions that erupt when some households catch the rising tide of prosperity while others get left behind.

Brotherly Love is a soap opera about the promising growth of Philadelphia as one of the first cities to reach one million citizens. It explores such iconic developments as skyscrapers, commuting, department stores, immigration from southern Europe, church revivals, public education, the press, competing moral systems, family dynamics, fine arts, and entertainment. Many of the main characters are Friends (Quakers) and the show illustrates their influence on how the city develops. Brotherly Love takes place in the same time/place as Cradle of Liberty, and the two shows feature regular crossovers. In essence, one portrays the lighter side of Philadelphia and the other portrays the darker side. They launched in 2010 and are currently running.

Cradle of Liberty is a crime drama about the challenging growth of Philadelphia as one of the first cities to reach one million citizens. It covers such difficulties as wastefulness, crime, slums, nativism, classism, profiteering, divorce, and Prohibition. Many of the main characters are Friends (Quakers) and the show illustrates their influence in the penal system. Cradle of Liberty takes place in the same time/place as Brotherly Love, and the two shows feature regular crossovers. In essence, one portrays the lighter side of Philadelphia and the other portrays the darker side. They launched in 2010 and are currently running.

Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth is a 1990s legal drama about the Reconstruction era as educated and freed blacks in eastern cities fight to establish a place in society. It actually starts with the movie Juneteenth which tells how black lives change after the abolition of slavery. Much of the show happens in Washington, D.C. but individual episodes feature different cities in the East.

A Distinctly American Art is a comedy of manners set in New York. It follows the adventures of artists and entertainers in the city's artistic community as the upper class and its fine arts meet the lower class and its vaudeville sensibilities during a time when the American arts were inventing themselves. It launched in 2012 and is currently running.

Women, Their Rights and Nothing Less is a Boston marriage show about suffragettes and other feminists living in Boston. They fall in love or friendship, struggle to support themselves, and choose to base their lives primarily around other women. It launched in 2013 and is currently running.

One famous television series and its related movie stretch the time period, as Westerns sometimes do, such that they are considered Easterns even though they take place in the early 1800s. The television show The Other Mrs. Jefferson and the movie The Second Lady both feature the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. They first came out in 1935, then were remade in 1961, 1990, and 2014. The interpretations have varied somewhat as understanding of that relationship continues to evolve.


I haven't really seen the same cluster of motifs into this genre in local-America, but it could be very interesting to try.

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