“Boardwalk Empire” returned this week as the Roaring Twenties and the concomitant battle over Prohibition continued. The first episode of season four explores a few of the important issues of that decade as the program moves into 1924.
Eli Thompson’s wife is worried that her college-attending son is smoking while at school. In the late 19th and early 20th century, smoking was concentrated among working-class people and the poor and was seen as uncouth among middle and upper middle class people. As the Victorian values of that era lost their power during the 1920s, the stigma on smoking faded and it slowly became a respectable behavior.
Meanwhile, a new character played by Ron Livingstone, has arrived to bring the Piggly Wiggly chain to Atlantic City. At the time, chain stores were expanding across the country and putting economic pressure on local mom and pop stores. Such problems existed long before the arrival of Wal-Mart.At the conclusion of the episode, Nucky Thompson is examining real estate papers about property in Manatee County on the Florida Gulf Coast. The 1920s witnessed a dramatic rise in interest in real estate in the Sunshine State as a bubble in land prices eventually burst at the end of the decade. Could Nucky be headed for some poor financial investments?