Texas Rising — some comments before the last episode

Tonight, the final episode of Texas Rising airs, and yes, exhausted though I was after even the first episode, I am sticking it out to the end and I’ll blog about it tomorrow.

In the meantime, my posts so far attracted the attention of the Wall Street Journal, and ten days ago I had a lengthy and wonderful phone interview with WSJ reporter Ana Campoy. This past Friday, her article on the series appeared in the newspaper, and in addition to one of my comments, she quotes a range of other writers, Texans, Texas historians, and filmmakers about the flaws in the series.

So I thought I’d share a few of those comments as we head into the final stretch here:

One of the first things Campoy notes in her article is one of the first things the series got wrong and one of the things I’ve been continually complaining about: “The action, which took place in 1836 in Texas’ verdant prairies and coastal plains, is shot in the more dramatic desert mountains of Mexico.”

Later, in the comments on the article, one reader named Robert Hutchings agrees: “The geographical inaccuracies were especially hard to take. While some parts of Texas does have buttes and mountains, the area where that war was fought is mostly flat with some forest.”

Amen, Campoy and Hutchings.

James Crisp, a university professor of Texas history, also expressed a frequent complaint of my own, that the show never needed to fabricate or manipulate story as much as it did when Texas has such a rich existing history, which, Crisp says, is “more poignant than the invented stuff.”

And he’s not the only educator to complain: Debbie Ratcliffe, from the Texas Education Agency, hasn’t even watched the series, but she did chime in long enough to tell us that her husband quit the watching the show “because he found its historical inaccuracies ‘so maddening.'”

(Campoy asked me in our interview why I’ve kept watching it, as have several of my friends online. I can’t really excuse sticking with the show except that, once I’d pushed through the first two episodes, I felt like I might as well suffer through to the end. Besides, I told Campoy, thinking about the accuracies and inaccuracies in this series has served as a good reminder for me to honor the history and the people in my own fiction as I write my new novel, also set in Texas and haunted by this revolution.)

Another commenter suggests (as I have) that the main problem with all the inaccuracies and fabrications isn’t the show itself — TV will do anything in the service of, well, not a good story, but at least a story that might sell advertising. As Ronald Wong comments, “If this were on any station but the History channel I would have no issue. The series which I have watched is just a fictional account of history jazzed up for today’s TV viewers. If it gets a few people interested enough to read and study the incredible impact the real Texas Rising had on American history that will be a good thing.”

Speaking of that real history: one thing I didn’t speak to much in my interview with Campoy was the Tejano role in the story, because at the time of the interview, the series had only got through the third episode and we’d not yet seen what an amazing character Juan Seguin would get to be in episode 4. I’m glad, then, that Campoy did get some comments on that subject from Texas historian Andres Tijerina, who pointed out that the Tejanos “play a more prominent role in the few tidbits of Texas Rising he has caught than in any other film on the subject he has ever watched.”

But what about my comments? What did I think about the series? Well, you’ll have to go read Campoy’s article (I’m the closing quote!). And for a fuller critique, you can catch up on my blog posts about the series here on the blog.

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

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