The Year: 1883. The Place: The Montana Territory. The Challenge: Blizzards, hunger, scorching sun, forest fires, the neighbors, and more ... Three modern families experienced life on the ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Series cast summary:
Kristen Brooks
(6 episodes, 2002)
Nate Brooks
(6 episodes, 2002)
Rudy Brooks
(6 episodes, 2002)
Adrienne Clune
(6 episodes, 2002)
Aine Clune
(6 episodes, 2002)
Conor Clune
(6 episodes, 2002)
Gordon Clune
(6 episodes, 2002)
Justin Clune
(6 episodes, 2002)
Tracy Clune
(6 episodes, 2002)
Karen Glenn
(6 episodes, 2002)
Mark Glenn
(6 episodes, 2002)
Erinn Patton
(6 episodes, 2002)
Logan Patton
(6 episodes, 2002)
 Narrator (6 episodes, 2002)


The Year: 1883. The Place: The Montana Territory. The Challenge: Blizzards, hunger, scorching sun, forest fires, the neighbors, and more ... Three modern families experienced life on the American Frontier. If you think you know everything that happened ... You don't. Written by Cynthia O.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Three modern families experience life on the American Frontier in the 1880s

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Release Date:

2002 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


When the terrorist attacks on the USA of 11 September 2001 occurred during filming of the show, the production wanted to keep the authenticity of 1883 life (no television, no radio) they told the families of the tragedy via local newspapers. See more »

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User Reviews

Man, I love PBS
6 November 2002 | by (Cleveland, OH) – See all my reviews

NOVA, National Geographic, The Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Scientific American Frontiers and, now, Frontier House. PBS just keeps raising the bar. If only mainstream media would catch on.

Frontier House is really a fantastic show. Three modern families are plopped down in 1880's Montana and left to fend for themselves. From the beginning, it is clear that Frontier House is not just another lame "reality" show. The participants and the organizers obviously take the project seriously. There are no silly games or idiotic "challenges" for the families to participate in because life on the frontier is challenging enough. What happens when you buy thirty chickens who won't produce any eggs? How do you reap (by hand) four tons of hay for your livestock to eat during the coming winter? How do you keep healthy, clean and sane when you are locked in a 24-hour-a-day struggle with the world at large? Frontier House explores these questions and many more.

Meet the Clunes: An extremely wealthy family used to only the best of everything. The husband is a chubby, pampered man with a family business to run. The wife actually has a degree in culinary arts and the daughter and her cousin miss their TV. How does a family like this survive as 1880's frontier settlers? They become a family of moonshining egg-and-baked-goods barons.

Meet the Glenns: Karen and Mark: a most unpleasant pair. Always with something nasty to say about the Clunes and constantly at each other's throats. Clearly, they see this as an exercise in "us against them". Think these show are a joke? The Glenns' marriage may just disintegrate before the show is over. How does Karen feed her family? Country-style thriftiness and severe rationing supplemented by income from a laundry-washing job.

Meet the Brooks: The show starts with Nate Brooks and his father Rudy sharing a log cabin. Nate and Rudy are by far the nicest, most helpful and least competitive people on the show. A pair of intelligent and capable men, they are the only black people on the show. Whether this is to reflect the racial mix of American frontier settlers or it just worked out that way, I don't know and it isn't really important. Rudy leaves early in the show and is replaced by Nate's fiancee, Kristen and the two are married in a Frontier ceremony. Nate and Kristen are my favorite people on Frontier House. They go about their business and do their best to make a life in the harsh conditions that confront them.

Even from my living room couch, the challenges faced by these three families seem insurmountable. The law of open range threatens to destroy all their hard work as cattle are driven across their land. The families face famine without enough provisions. Sickness, desperation, the weather and each other are just a few of the hundreds of daily challenges we see on Frontier House. How much wood do you need to chop to make it through a plains winter? What if animals get into your garden? What's it like to till the soil using a sled and a mule?

This show has an amazing amount of charm and appeal. We've all dreamed of "simpler" times without the hustle and bustle of modern life, but our idea of a simpler world usually has a refrigerator in it, somewhere. Unfortunately for the Clunes, the Brooks and the Glenns, that just isn't the case.

If you are looking for a fascinating show with really great characters (because they are real people!), then Frontier House is for you.

As I write this, I am watching "1940's House" where they have taken a British family and planted them in war-time London. I didn't like the first 5 minutes, but it's already growing on me. I can't wait to see the next episode.

Frontier House: 10/10 and only because there is no such thing as 11/10.

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