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Which Century | Challenges on the Frontier | Culture Shock | The Frontier Families | Would You Have Gone? | Other Time Periods

Culture Shock
Topic Description: It's one thing to deprive the Frontier House families of modern-day amenities such as cars and TV; but the participants are unlikely to disown their modern cultural notions, such as gender equality. Do you think the families should try to conform to the culture of 19th-century America?

Subject: Culture Shock - going back to 2002
I wondered if the culture shock in going back home at the end of the project would be more "shocking" than the beginning adjustment. I was reading an article on Frontier House on the Smithsonian web site, and yes, there was Karen's quote "It was a whole lot easier adjusting to less out there than it was coming back here and adjusting to more," and she had gotten rid of her car phone, beeper, and extra cable tv channels. Mark was definitely having trouble adjusting to being home again, from the interview on the last episode. The Clune girls were obviously bored in the midst of wealth, without the activities that occupied them on the homestead.

One summer I lived on land that I used to own in the northwestern corner of Montana. I had no running water, it was just me and my collie dog, no privy, living in an old trailer parked in the forest. It was weird to come back home to town and be able to turn a light on with a switch, to turn on a tap and get hot and cold running water. It was jarring to see television again and be bombarded with loud sounds and fast flashing images.

Subject: Boundaries and Gender Roles
I don't think that anybody expected a perfect recreation of period history, and the producers wanted the families to be themselves. Of course, being themselves included the influences and knowledge of their own place in time. I was happy to see that they had such a long training period before they set out to 1883, so that they could learn the skills and the information they would need to survive. I think they needed better information and better boundaries about social and moral issues that would have affected those living in 1883. I would like to have seen their clothes worn in a historically accurate manner (or at least closer to it) and to see the jobs better divided by gender. There was no reason why Adrienne had to be in that kitchen by herself all day and there is no reason why both Clune boys could not have been in the field more. Gender tasks created order, assistance for the adults in handling heavy workloads, and instruction on how to be a man or a woman. I think the order and a clear understanding of the expectations for each individual would have made it easier, not harder. They all seemed lost without these defined roles in their new world. And with 5 months worth of filming, those conversations about fast food certainly didn't need to make the editors cut. Although I enjoyed the show immensely and looked forward to it each night, it lacked the polish that The 1900 House had. The Bowlers had stricter rules about authenticity, and the worse thing they did was buy shampoo, which they later emptied down the drain. Yet, the boundaries set for their role in 1900 didn't seem to leave them grasping for a script. They found a way to be themselves in 1900 and gave themselves a true experience of life as a 1900 Victorian. Can the families of Frontier House say that they honestly gave themselves the best 1883 experience they could?

Subject: bring 1883 to current times
Some things I am reflecting on after three nights of watching: Small cabin where everyone knows each other and what is going on vs. huge homes, separate rooms with "keep out" on the door and privacy expected. Quiet, nature, community, knowing neighbors vs. malls, buying things we don't need, media, advertising, noise. Feeling accomplishment from physical work, building, gardening, survival vs. peer pressure, what the media says we should be, spending money just to be like someone else. Kids learning to build, garden, sew, play outside, helping the family, learning skills vs. TV, video games, shopping. Many things in this century are wonderful! But I'd like to do away with some things and bring some 1883 qualities to my own life. Thanks PBS.

Subject: The children
I loved the show, flaws and all, but wish it were longer than 6 hours. I had a hard time telling the parents apart from one another. What touched me the most was how the children reacted to the world around them once they were back. They looked so bored back in the real world and I wonder whether the world we're raising our children in (full of constant noise and distractions) is not good for them. I hope the show will do another follow up.

Subject: The show and the children
I agree 100 per cent. I hope PBS will even do a series showing how to do some of the skills and tasks that were so necessary for survival. For example, I would love to see a show on how to cook, or how to properly use an ax. With regard to the children, I would like to take mine into this experience. I think life must have taken on a whole new rich flavor missing from our everyday experience. I must say that I am a little worried about Logan. Please do this again. Many thanks to all involved.

Though I am enjoying this series tremendously, I would have loved to see how a black woman would have reacted to such conditions. I do believe that there were black women on the frontier, and because of this series I will be researching this. I am hooked on this series and I hate to see it end.



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