Frontier House is a reality tv series in which three modern families go to Montana to live like homesteaders circa 1883. They are there for six months and live as authentically as possible-- building their own log cabins, wearing 1883 clothes, using outhouses, churning butter, washing clothes by hand, and so on. Each and every family member has to pitch in. At the end of their stay, a historian comes in to judge whether any of them would survive the winter.
The families are a real hoot. There are the Clunes-- rich folks who left behind a fancy lifestyle in Malibu, CA. The Glenns-- middle class folks from Tennessee. And the Brooks-- newlyweds from Boston who held their wedding during the course of filming (above). The Brooks are pretty laid back, but the Clunes and the Glenns don't get along. The drama between them isn't overdramatized, but it's enough to be entertaining and revealing (and sometimes annoying). It's a fascinating look at how 21st century folks cope without modern amenities.
Some quotes from the series:
Four foot by about twelve or fifteen foot. It wouldn’t even fit the books in our house.Quotes made by the people about two months after they returned to normal life:
- Mark Glenn, speaking of their Prairie Schooner wagon
Neighboring is a lost art in our society. We’re such a mobile culture, it’s rare to really get to know your neighbors or invest any great deal of energy into the art of neighboring.
- Nate Brooks
I feel like I’m growing up a lot here because like before like if I was in Temecula or California or wherever I used to live like I wouldn’t do anything. I would just sit on my butt and watch TV and I was just a lazy person. But like now that I’m actually doing work I feel like a better person. Like you know I’m actually doing something to help other people.
- Tracy Clune (kid)
In modern life there’s almost too much to choose from so I’m not really sure what to do… We could do anything. We could get a Masters in anything and recreate ourselves and become anything, make any amount of money, have any amount of kids. It’s overwhelming. You know, I’m not sure exactly which one to pick.p.s. Frontier House is available on DVD in case it's not being shown on your local PBS station.
- Kristen Brooks
You’re a man or a woman working hard in the twenty-first century and your kids don’t know what it is that you do. It’s seamless. They’re isolated from it. And that’s sad… I realized that more so than ever since I’ve been back. But in five months in 1883 I got more satisfaction, more accomplishment, more appreciation than I did my entire career beforehand.
- Gordon Clune
I think the year 2001 is kind of boring. Every day I always say I’m bored and my parents get mad at me for it. But there’s nothing to do. There’s just nothing to do here. You get kind of tired of going to the mall every day. And you get kind of tired of doing nothing all day.
- Tracy Clune (kid)