— Terry Pratchett, "And Mind The Monoliths"
A type of Reality Show that gained popularity in the early 2000's. Its premise was simple: take a family of average modern-day schlubs and put them into a setting where they're forced to live as medieval peasants. Or as 19th Century cowhands. Or as some other group that was born before the age of antibiotics, grocery stores and central heating.
Most shows like this have a combination of educational value and the entertainment value of watching the show's hapless family (or group of families) deal with dramatic or comedic Fish out of Water scenarios. You can expect most of these shows to include at least one of the following:
- A Rich Bitch complaining about being forced to give up her cosmetics, cell phone, and/or shampoo. Expect her to chuck the corset and the long-sleeved tops at the earliest opportunity and laze about the farmyard in what is essentially her skivvies.
- A Straw Feminist who views this reenactment as an opportunity to redress the "wrongs" committed against her "sisters" in the past and will insist on equal rights and an equal vote for women in the affairs of the community. She'll most likely eschew domestic drudge labor in favor of working alongside the boy.
- An enthusiastic outdoorsman-type who embraces his new "life in the past" with cheer. Is the only member of the cast who spends more time working than he does arguing with his fellow cast-mates.
- At least one Soapbox Sadie vegetarian and/or atheist who will use the opportunity to expouse their lifestyle. May or may not overlap with the Straw Feminist mentioned above.
- A young or squeamish member of the cast who is forced to kill a livestock animal they raised from a baby and formed an emotional attachment to.
- At least one couple who undergo a serious Relationship Upgrade during the course of the show. (If the show is British, you can expect it to end with titillating shots of the couple in bed together.)
- A community leader whose confidence in himself is matched only by his ignorance of the time period in which he and the rest of the cast are "living."
To be fair, many of the people who appear on these kinds of shows come away from their experience having learned much about how their ancestors lived, and with a new appreciation for what pre-21st century people had to go through. Some people however will insist on bringing their 21st Century values into the past, living life as they feel it should have been.
- The 1900 House (1999) (UK; living in historical conditions. Also shown on PBS)
- Pioneer Quest: A Year in the Real West (2000) (Canada)
- The 1940s House (2001) (UK)
- ''The Edwardian Country House'' aka Manor House (2002)
- Frontier House (2002) (US; PBS show set in the American frontier of 1883)
- Quest for the Bay (2002) (Canada)
- The Ship (2002) (UK)
- Klondike: The Quest for Gold (2003) (Canada)
- Colonial House (2004) (US; PBS show set in the American frontier of 1628)
- Regency House Party (2004) (UK)
- Warrior Challenge (2004) (US)
- Le Moyen 1903 (2003) (Switzerland/TSR)
- That'll teach 'Em (2003, 2004, 2006) (UK; 1950's schooling)
- Texas Ranch House (2006) (US; PBS show set in the Texas frontier of 1867)
- Le Pensionnat de Chavagnes (2004) (France ; 1950's schooling)
- Living In The Past (1978) (UK, BBC show set in an Iron Age village; possibly the Ur-Example. More historically accurate than most, to the point where one archeologist advisor actually learnt what caused a peculiarity of Iron Age huts from watching it happen.)
- Surviving the Iron Age (2001) (UK, remake of the above, but with less historic accuracy)
- Evacuation (2006) (UK; CBBC show with City Mouse kids sent to WWII countryside)
- The Comic Strip Presents episode "Summer School" (January 1983). The iron-age village setting is part of a university vacation course to help people "find themselves", and probably parodying the 1978 Living In The Past example listed above.
- Kid Nation
- 70s House (US;MTV)
- Victorian Farm (UK 2009), followed by Edwardian Farm (2010), Wartime Farm (2012) and Tudor Monastery Farm (2013) and more loosely by Victorian Pharmacy (2010)
- Back in Time for Tea (UK 2018): A family lives in various eras of the 20th century (skipping World War II, but not rationing) with particular emphasis on the food choices available.
- Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Helter Shelter".