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Frontier House: Fifteen Years On

frontier_zoom.jpgI have always loved reality television. Want me to prove it? When I was six-years-old, I avidly watched PBS’ “Frontier House,” a six-part miniseries in which three families compete to survive an 1883 winter. My Dad got me hooked, knowing my love of history and pretend. (This was seriously the best game of pretend ever! I can only dream of a world in which everyone wants to play pretend to this extent…That’s the world I want to live in.)

Anyway, let me set the stage:

The Clunes: The Clunes are a family of six from Los Angeles. Accustomed to the warm Malibu weather, as well as a number of housekeepers, the Clunes are the family that I’ve always been like: “Why did you choose to do this? You literally couldn’t seem less game for five months in the Montana wilderness.” They also cheat. You’ll see…Otherwise, they’re great for some laughs. The Clune women refuse to let go of modern day amenities, like eyeliner, and infighting ensues amongst the Clunes and the Glenns for this failure to adhere to the show’s rules. makeup_popup_2.jpg

The Glenns: Karen Glenn invited her two children and new husband to join her in Frontier Valley…but it rarely seems like she wants them there. The Glenn Compound is truly the Karen Glenn show. This woman cracks me up! Her commentary is hysterical, and her inability to communicate with Gordon Clune makes for great television. (Sad note: They kill their pig. This was traumatic for me as a child, so I figured I’d prepare you.) It’s also an intimate view into the deterioration of frontier 1.jpga marriage. Frustrating, devastating.

The Brooks: I can’t imagine getting married on the Frontier as a 21st century woman (wow! Just made the cut…). Still, Kristen Brooks is game, and more power to her! Can you imagine being a newlywed and moving away from all your creature comforts to spend multiple months in a one-room cabin? I sure can’t. Kristen and Nate are my favorites. They are so down-to-earth, and really embrace MV5BMTg4ODk4Nzc1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDA5ODkyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR51,0,214,317_AL_.jpgthe experience in spite of the many trials and tribulations they face. Shout out to Nate’s father Rudy, who makes a six-week appearance!

Looking back on this show, so much has changed about reality television– and the world in general– since 2001. These families were “on the Frontier” on 9/11. Can you imagine that isolation? It’s an incredibly fascinating social experiment, and I recommend it to all history buffs and reality television hounds. You won’t be disappointed, I assure you. Sometimes I like to re-watch and revisit my ol’ Frontier friends…

 

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