Unseemly family secrets can often result in immense mental
anguish-- both from the exhausting task of keeping those secrets
hidden and the damage they can wreak once they've been uncovered.
This reality is well explored in Showtime's A House Divided.
A House Divided is based on the true story of a young
slave named Julia (Lisa Gay Hamilton) who is bought by the wealthy
Dickson family. David Dickson (Sam Waterston) takes a liking to
Julia based on the fact that she's well spoken and bright. Her
intelligence was particularly intriguing because it was illegal to
teach slaves during that era. Eventually, Dickson rapes Julia and
she becomes pregnant from the encounter. Once Julia gives birth,
she makes what must have been one of the most heart-wrenching
decisions of her life; Julia shuns her own child and, in effect,
forces the Dickson family to raise the child as their own. Young
Amanda (Jennifer Beals) is raised as a white woman without any
awareness that her own mother is the house slave girl Julia.
Indeed, she might have lived all of her life without that knowledge
if not for the affections a white soldier, which forced the Dickson
family secrets to the fore. Each of the main characters deals with
this disclosure in different, almost equally destructive ways, and
they escape the ugly truth for a number of years. The truth has
not vanished, however, and when David Dickson's last will and
testament is revealed it serves as the catalyst for re-hashing the
family's sordid past. Making this renewed attention all the more
embarrassing, especially for Amanda, is the fact that the drama is
played out very publicly in southern courtrooms.