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EXCLUSIVE: Adam Ruins Everything Explains Why John Smith Was the Bad Guy in Pocahontas

In their new “Reanimate History” episodes, Adam Ruins Everything is taking on some of the most well-known stories of history to reveal “surprising truths and unsung heroes” from the disturbing history of the American pilgrims to misconceptions about Native American populations, to the origins of the Continental Army. It turns out most of our nation’s founding mythology is a lie and actually built on extreme violence! Who knew? (A lot of people.)

Now, most of us pretty familiar with Disney’s classic movie Pocahontas which beautifully illustrated the love story between the daughter of the chief and Englishman John Smith, who arrived to establish the Jamestown settlement. While most realize that the Disney version of colonization did not really happen this Adam Ruins Everything segment talks more about the non-romantic settler violence that really did occur when Smith arrived.

It starts with the fact that Pocahontas was 10 years old in 1607, and that the “romance” was completely contrived. It’s such a weird and creepy move on Disney’s part to age her up to create a romance, and I feel like we don’t talk about that enough. Anyway, back to history—rather than being his savior from execution, Conover points out that Smith most likely made up the entire incident or misunderstood a religious welcome ceremony. In reality, the Jamestown settlers were awful to Pocahontas’ tribe. After they stopped helping with needed supplies because of a particularly bad harvest, the British “threatened and harassed them so much that they moved the entire village away.”

Conover also points out that Pocahontas ended up marrying the warrior Kocoum, whom she “liked quite a bit” because he made the very romantic gesture of not violently threatening her people. That sounds like a much better love story, just saying!

Pocahontas’ story, many of you know, does not end there. The full episode will also include more about how she died far away from home after being kidnapped and forced to wed another Englishman. It’ll make you truly furious at the way in which her most memorable image was created and used by Disney—a character of romance and peace-building without any true recognition of the individual and collective violence inflicted on her and her family.

The episode, titled “The First Factsgiving” airs on March 27th at 10:30 PM ET/PT.

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