In many episodes, it is graphically shown that U.S. soldiers not only mistreated the Indians but also physically and verbally abused them with an unreasonable anger that resulted more often in repeated cruel violence than in punishment of the soldiers’ inhuman actions. As far as the main characters are concerned, Dr. Quinn’s character is like the open-minded canvas of the audience; she is ready to view her surroundings and place her opinions with enough obstinacy and determination that can move mountains. Ironically, Dr. Quinn’s kindness and her willingness to help people, in spite of prejudice against her being a female doctor, is overturned in the storyline again and again by the supporting characters. Despite her saving their lives, the hypocritical townspeople of Colorado Springs refuse to yield to change or relent. Many characters behave irrationally (like Loren, Jake, and Hank), all contradicting their seemingly decent natures by assiduously betraying Dr. Quinn’s trust whenever it is convenient or can gain them free money.
Also, what good characters there are in the town are plagued as well by these insidious friendships in many episodes. Grace and Robert E., for example, are two hard-working African Americans who provide basic services to the town, but during “The First Circle,” a powerful introduction to the machinations of the K.K.K., none of the townspeople except Dr. Quinn and her family stand by this couple. The entire town is racist (regardless of naming themselves “abolitionists”) and conducts irretrievable assaults on both Grace and Robert E. Another episode equally impressive is “The Library,” where the censorship of books is taken into account by Dr. Quinn and the town’s pastor. The same applies to the bold stance the entire series takes in regards to the Native Americans by decrying the corrupted U.S. government’s injustices. In fact, Dr. Quinn is rooted in exposing injustice: the injustice of racial prejudice, of anti-feminism, of extortion and financial manipulation, of “polite” blackmail and bribery, of mob rule and peer pressure, of no religious tolerance. All of these crimes backed by cruelty, avarice, and selfishness are not part of the American Dream.
To be continued…
All six seasons of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman are available on DVD as a complete set or individually wherever movies are sold in Fresno and online; they also can be rented for free from local libraries.