Is 'Turn' Season 2 Historically Accurate? Washington's Spies Offers A Mixed Bag Of Fact & Fiction
I don't know about the rest of you, but I was never a big history fan back in high school. All of those dates to remember and stoic figures to recall? It never really felt like my cup of tea. That is, until AMC decided to air a captivating Revolutionary War drama Turn: Washington's Spies , successfully throwing all of my preconceived notions of boredom out the window. But just like with most things that get converted over to television, one can't help but wonder how true to history something like this remains. Is Turn 's second season historically accurate or simply a huge exaggeration of events to help draw audiences in? Well, if I'm being completely honest here, it's usually a little bit of both.
Unlike FOX's fantasy-filled series Sleepy Hollow, Turn makes sure to stick more to the facts rather than relying on a Headless Horseman and multiple demonic threats to drive the storyline forward. As you already know by now, many of Turn's characters, such as Abe Woodhull, are all based on real life people, even if they aren't as well known as the likes of George Washington himself. But that doesn't mean the writers don't still tweak things a bit to make both the characters and plot more alluring. And Season 2 appears to be attempting to straddle that delicate line as smartly as possible. (We are dealing with spies, after all.)
Take Benedict Arnold (played by The Mentalist's Owain Yeoman), for instance, who will serve as a pivotal character throughout the course of the second season. Sure, you've more than likely heard of his notorious betrayal that made him a traitor to his country, but do you know much about him before that infamous decision occurred? Turn seeks to dive right into this man's complicated history and offers to tell his side of the story for a change. (Because as is often the case for all things in life: not everything is as cut and dry as it seems.)
Is it precisely true to what actually happened? Probably not. But it will help us to see/understand his line of thinking and what it was that helped lead him to defection. The same can be said for Arnold's marriage to Peggy Shippen. There are things you may have heard about this historical figure and her role in Arnold's actions, but that doesn't mean the series won't have fun adding extra layers of interpretation regarding what she and her husband bring to the table.
"Benedict Arnold has such a bad reputation in history, but maybe we haven’t considered all of the things that made him famous before he was infamous,” Yeoman recently told Entertainment Weekly regarding his character's Season 2 arc. "And if we can celebrate his good side, then seeing his demise is that much more powerful." So despite what prior Social Studies classes may have you believe, perhaps by season's end you'll be singing a different tune in regards to your feelings about this infamous figure. And wouldn't that be a rather big "turn" of events.
Images: Antony Platt/AMC (3)