The BEST Episodes of Prohibition

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Sep 18, 2020

Network: PBS

Prohibition is a three-part, five-and-a-half-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that tells the story of the rise, rule, and fall of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the entire era it encompassed.

A Nation of Hypocrites

#1 - A Nation of Hypocrites

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 4, 2011

Conclusion. The factors that led to the end of prohibition are detailed, as the criminalization of alcohol feeds large profits into the coffers of criminal organizations and turns such gangsters as Al Capone into celebrities. Wealthy Pauline Sabin encourages the repeal of the 18th Amendment; and brings together women from all classes who support her position. The 21st Amendment, which repeals the 18th, is adopted after FDR's 1932 election and by late 1933 people can again legally buy drinks.

star 8.23
172 votes
Writers: Geoffrey C. Ward
A Nation of Drunkards

#2 - A Nation of Drunkards

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Oct 2, 2011

Part 1 of Ken Burns' three-part history of the prohibition era (1920-33) opens with the start of the temperance movement in the 19th century under the stewardship of such leaders as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard and Carry Nation; and the Anti-Saloon League, which pushed for a constitutional amendment that would ban the sale and manufacture of alcohol.

star 8.07
192 votes
Writers: Geoffrey C. Ward
A Nation of Scofflaws

#3 - A Nation of Scofflaws

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 3, 2011

Part 2 of 3 examines the problems that the Volstead Act and prohibition caused, including a possible increase in alcoholism due to women frequenting the illicit speakeasies that replaced male-only saloons; adulterated liquor that poisons some drinkers; and civil-rights violations by overzealous federal agents anxious to make arrests. Despite the public's growing opposition to the ban, few politicians dare to speak against it due to the political might of the Anti-Saloon League.

star 7.93
178 votes
Writers: Geoffrey C. Ward