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How The Gilded Age Season 2 Recreated The Tuskegee Institute 

While Peggy’s main concern on her trip is the social optics of a single woman traveling alone with a married man, Dorothy’s concerns for her daughter in episode 3 “Head to Head” go far deeper. Peggy grew up in the North and never experienced the Jim Crow South. While New York was socially segregated, the law in Alabama and the other Southern states in the 1880’s rigorously enforced segregation in all areas of life. There are rules for survival Peggy has no idea about and she dismisses her mother’s warnings as being too strict. 

During episodes 4 and 5, Peggy and Fortune get a tour of the Tuskegee Institute facilities and also get the opportunity to speak to students about their studies and how they feel about the future. Unfortunately, in episode 5, Peggy and Fortune also get a taste of the aggressive and violent racism that Washington and his students face every day in Alabama.

Den of Geek interviewed writer and executive producer Sonja Warfield, production designer Bob Shaw, and costume designer Kasia Walicka Maimone to find out more about Peggy’s characterization this season and how they brought the world of the Tuskegee Institute to life.

Many The Gilded Age fans may not realize this but both Warfield and the series historical advisor Dr. Erica Dunbar are Black and their ideas and perspectives have played a huge role in shaping Peggy’s overall plot. During a brainstorming session for season 2, Dunbar told Warfield about how the series timeline coincides with Washington starting the institute. 

“After this discussion she did more research and she found out that there was a man in New York who donated a lot of money to Tuskegee that helped them build the dormitory. We immediately knew we had a gem and we just went with it,” Warfield says. 

Once the connection to New York was made, the next step was to shift Peggy’s character from the end of season 1 into season 2 in a direction where she could cover the Tuskegee Institute’s opening. 

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