Of course I played Monopoly a fair amount as a preteen, teen, and young adult. I even played it a bit as a not-so-young adult. The political implications were never in the front of my mind—except for the one summer in the 1970s when I saw it being played in a Communist country of all places!

I was staying in a youth hostel in the late, great Yugoslavia. A group of university students from elsewhere in eastern Europe were very excited to be playing this “capitalist” game in a country that was definitely Communist despite not being behind the Iron Curtain. I expressed surprise that Monopoly was permitted, but they were confident that it was.

Or maybe they just relished the thrill of playing a game that was not permitted.

Anyhow, all of this made me leap at the opportunity to learn the true history of Monopoly on American Experience on PBS. The provocative title—“Ruthless: Monopoly’s Secret History”—turned out actually to be pretty honest marketing, not clickbait. Barbara assured me before we started watching that Monopoly had been invented by a woman. News to me, but it turned out to be true.

In the best traditions of the American Experience series, this was a great combination of entertainment and education. So watch it and enjoy!

Categories: Movies & (occasionally) TV, Technology