This episode is darling, and I have always wondered why the characters of Jenny, her mother and her beau weren't made permanent. Such are the plotlines in Walnut Grove. Jenny, an adorable blonde classmate of the Ingalls girls, has a bitter, overworked, widowed mother who rarely smiles and certainly has no time for fun. Alternately, a gangly and somewhat awkward, but not unattractive, single man in town has eyes for the widow--and he absolutely adores Jenny. Everyone in town (and TV Land) sees this as a perfect match--except Jenny's mother; try though he might, his every attempt at courtship is swiftly rebuffed. When Jenny is chosen for a part in the school play, her mother refuses to come, using the excuse that she "doesn't have a decent dress". When a wigmaker stops by the mercantile, Jenny sells her locks to him--secretly--in order to obtain money for a dress for her Ma. Without ever removing her bonnet, she presents the new frock to her mother, happily adding, "now you can come to the play!". Her mother angrily accuses her of lying to her about the origin of the dress, claiming that the man from town must have bought it for her to wear. Jenny runs from the house, where she is discovered crying by the roadside by none other than her ma\'s wanna-be beau. When she tells him what happened, he angrily storms to her residence and, in a bold display of male assertiveness, informs her that she WILL wear that dress and that she WILL be ready for HIM to accompany her to the play, pronto. And oh, by the way, he adds, he has no idea how Jenny got that dress. Exactly how is revealed in the climactic moment during the play, when Nellie pulls off Jenny's bonnet, the crowd gasps at her short new-do, and Jenny confesses to all in attendance why she sacrificed her golden tresses. There's not a dry eye in the schoolhouse as the newly softened mother bolts from her seat to embrace her daughter onstage. Naturally, the three happily ride off together afterward. Nellie breaks the tension with a chagrined, "she ruined the play", to which Miss Beadle replies, "be quiet, Nellie!". Beautiful.
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