Best Excuse for Civil War Nostalgia

Mercy Street
When PBS announced that Mercy Street, a Civil War-era drama set in Alexandria, would air alongside the final season of Downton Abbey, audiences hoped for another soap opera, full of lavish costumes and manipulative relationships. What they got was a hospital show with plenty of gore (extended shots of leg amputations and gangrenous wounds) but very little sex appeal. Southern accents, it turns out, are less charming than British ones. The city of Alexandria doesn’t care, however; its cultural calendar is filled with lectures and activities celebrating the series and the real people who worked in its Civil War–era hospitals. By the time the series’ second season debuts, don’t be surprised to see King Street filled with hoop-skirted cosplayers and Ken Burns fangirls.