I guess it says something about me that the mention American Gothic has me thinking of the painting rather than the television series that I've heard much about, but never actually watched; I couldn't tell you if one has any connection to the other except their shared title. Not that I'm a student of art, but American Gothic is a classic that most people recognize when they see it. The 1930s farmer holding a pitchfork and his young wife standing beside him, looking off to the side as if watching kids getting into mischief and getting ready to bolt, while thinking she's got too much to do to stand around having her picture painted. There's been some speculation that the woman isn't the farmer's wife, but his daughter. If that's the case, the expression takes on new meaning. She's still not happy about having to stand around having her picture painted—that's fairly common, even today, when you want impatient children to pose for a photo; they've got better things to do, even if it's only scrolling their social media feed. But the young woman in this painting is already looking old for her age, she wants to live and have fun. Her eyes follow the world racing away before her while she's rooted to the ground, tethered by expectations and family ties. Maybe that's the connection between the TV show and the painting, the pain and horror of medieval times is still with us, just taking different forms. The faces and surroundings are different, but expressions and emotions remain the same.
(American Gothic is a painting by Grant Wood, circa 1930)
~Elise Skidmore ©2021