How Little House on the Prairie Copied Bonanza

Little House on the Prairie was a beloved television series that aired from 1974 to 1983, chronicling the lives of the Ingalls family as they settled on the American frontier in the late 1800s. However, some viewers have noticed similarities between Little House on the Prairie and another classic TV Western, Bonanza.

Bonanza, which aired from 1959 to 1973, followed the lives of the wealthy Cartwright family on their sprawling ranch, the Ponderosa, in Nevada during the 1860s. While the two shows may seem vastly different on the surface, there are several notable similarities between them.

One of the most obvious connections between Little House on the Prairie and Bonanza is the shared executive producer, Ed Friendly. Friendly was responsible for bringing both shows to television, and it’s possible that he saw the success of Bonanza and sought to replicate it with Little House on the Prairie.

In terms of characters, both shows feature patriarchal figures who serve as the head of the family and the moral compass for those around them. Ben Cartwright, the father of the Cartwright family on Bonanza, and Charles Ingalls, the father of the Ingalls family on Little House on the Prairie, are both wise and compassionate men who guide their families through the challenges of life on the frontier.

Additionally, both shows feature strong female characters who are determined to make their own way in the world. On Bonanza, this is seen in the character of Ben Cartwright’s daughter, Laura. On Little House on the Prairie, it is the character of Laura Ingalls, who serves as a central figure in many of the show’s storylines.

Another similarity between the two shows is their focus on social issues of the time. Bonanza often tackled issues related to race and prejudice, while Little House on the Prairie addressed issues such as women’s rights, alcoholism, and poverty.

But while there are similarities between the two shows, Little House on the Prairie did manage to set itself apart in certain ways. For one, it had a greater focus on family dynamics and relationships, while Bonanza was more action-oriented. Additionally, Little House on the Prairie featured more child characters and explored their experiences and perspectives, while Bonanza primarily centered around the adult members of the Cartwright family.

Despite any perceived similarities between the two shows, Little House on the Prairie was able to carve out its own place in television history and has remained a beloved classic for decades. While it may have borrowed certain elements from Bonanza and other Western shows of the time, its focus on family values and social issues made it a unique and important contribution to the television landscape of its era.

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