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'Drunk History' recap: Vote for me—I'm alive

Season 2 | Episode 8 | “Philadelphia” | Aired Aug 19, 2014

Drunk History is ringing the Liberty Bell with a trip to Philadelphia, home to cheesesteaks and revolutionary glory. Apparently, the Founding Fathers had more tricks up their sleeves than your history teacher might have let on. What’s on tap tonight in the City of Brotherly Love?

1. Clean people win wars.

In the winter of 1777, the troops under George Washington (Stephen Merchant) were freezing and starving in Valley Forge. Washington reached out to Ben Franklin in Paris and asked him to stop partying long enough to lend a hand, which seems like the least a Founding Father could do. Franklin tracked down a Prussian war general, Baron von Steuben (David Cross), and asked him to go to America. Von Steuben initially resisted; he’d already been kicked out of Prussia for being gay, and he was happy in Paris. As it turned out, though, being gay in Paris in 1777 wasn’t so great either, so von Steuben rolled into Valley Forge with an entourage of chefs, butlers and pets (delightfully represented here by a single stuffed dog). It was time to give these troops a good old-fashioned training montage.

stephenmerchant-as-george-washington-and-david-cross-as-von-steubenVon Steuben enlisted the help of a young captain named Ben Walker (Derek Waters), who could translate his Prussian instructions. Walker was also gorgeous, which was a nice bonus. Together, the pair taught American soldiers how to wield bayonets and how to use soap—because cleanliness is next to victory, and you can’t win a war if you’re dying of dysentery. The strategy worked, and von Steuben’s troops played a major role in the success of the revolution. In 1784, Washington gave von Steuben a home, which he wanted him to share with Walker. (“I will grant you the most beautiful love ever.”) Von Steuben and Walker moved in together in their matching furs, and the army compiled their tactics into a “Blue Book” that dictated policy for the next century. I think the moral of this story is that we should expect the best-dressed people to take over the world.

2. Presidential campaigns have always been dirty.

west wing wrongnessIf you think elections used to be civilized, look to John Adams (Joe Lo Truglio) and Thomas Jefferson (Jerry O’Connell). The two were close friends, despite the fact that they differed on how strictly to interpret the Constitution, until the election of 1800 pitted them against each other. Adams suggested that the country would be lawless under his opponent. (“If you elect Thomas Jefferson, here’s what you’re gonna get: murdered. All the time.”) Jefferson told reporters that Adams was a hermaphrodite who had prostitutes shipped in from overseas, so Adams told the papers that Jefferson was DEAD. (“It’s a pretty good campaign. ‘Vote for me. I’m alive.’”) Jefferson, obviously not dead, delivered the fatal blow when he announced that Adams wanted to go to war with France. It wasn’t true, but Americans were so afraid of another war that they elected Thomas Jefferson to be their third President.

3. It’s never too late to fix a friendship.

Adams used the rest of his presidency to appoint people who opposed everything that his successor stood for, making it difficult for Jefferson to pass any laws. Four years later, Jefferson’s daughter died, so Abigail Adams (Jayma Mays) wrote him to express her condolences. In his response, Jefferson thanked her for her kindness, but he also took the opportunity to insult both Abigail and her husband. (“Like, that should have been two separate letters.”) The relationship went silent for another decade, until Jefferson and fellow Founding Father Benjamin Rush started reminiscing about their glory days. Jefferson sent Adams a generic letter, just to ask how things were going, and the two picked up a correspondence.

Jerryoconnell-as-thomas-jefferson-joe-lo-truglio-as-john-adams-and-jayma-mays-as-abigail-adamsBy the end of their lives, Jefferson and Adams had exchanged 158 letters and were best friends again; so much so that in 1826, Adams used his last words to celebrate the fact that Jefferson lived on. What he could not know was that Jefferson had passed away just a few hours earlier. The two men died on the same day, July 4, 1826: the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

4. Bring history up to date by nicknaming the Founding Fathers.

Narrator Patrick Walsh is full of quotables, but one of the best parts of his story is that it involves Jefferson and Adams addressing each other as “Johnny Ads” and “Tommy Jeffs.” Wouldn’t all historical letters be better if they opened like that?

5. Powdered wigs are no excuse for treason.

chrisparnell-as-benedict-arnoldBenedict Arnold (Chris Parnell) was a hero in the American revolution, but he took it personally when the Continental Congress promoted five other generals and not him. In 1778, Benedict met a young British woman named Peggy Shippen (Winona Ryder), the “it girl” of Philadelphia. Peggy had a suitor, John Andre (Derek Waters), but she married Benedict and convinced him that he wasn’t being properly appreciated by his government. Peggy wanted Benedict to write her letters with inside information, which she would relay to Andre. Benedict agreed, but he messed with his wife’s ex-boyfriend by making his letters as passionate as possible. (“Also the Continental Army is going to West Point. Also I love you, and I love you, I love you.”)

Benedict met with Andre behind American lines, gave him a signed map and promised that he would have George Washington (John Lithgow) over for breakfast on a specific date. On his way out of camp, Andre was stopped by three American soldiers, who saw Benedict’s signature on the map and realized that they had been betrayed. They warned Washington, but Benedict had already prepared Peggy, who ripped off half of her clothes and accused Washington of coming to kill her baby. Washington wrote off Peggy as crazy but innocent, and Benedict was the only one whose name was tarnished. His reputation as a traitor was so pervasive that even the British didn’t want him on their side. (We have all since gotten over our “Benedict” aversion.) He died in his American Army uniform, regretting ever having worn any other.

Parnell really knows how to rock a floppy wig, as if there were ever any doubt. The whole cast seemed to be enjoying themselves. Cross and his stuffed dog were a highlight of the first segment, and Mays stole the scene with her expressiveness as she wrote that letter. How much did you know about these stories from Philadelphia’s past? And can we nickname all of the Founding Fathers?

Drunk History, rated TV-14, airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on Comedy Central.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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