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Historical Re-Creation

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You can't miss us, down here at the HTV Paleolithic Village. Well, you can, if you're not careful. What you do is, you come up past the Yorkshire Television hill fort, turn left at the LWT Bronze Age encampment, go straight on past Southern TV's Beaker Folk village, and we're next door to the field where some poor bleeders are trying to reconstruct Stonehenge.
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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.


Examples:

Literature

  • A Head Full of Ghosts: The Possession.
  • Tsar Gorokh's Detective Agency: Nikita sees a crowd of people in the distance; they are watching Shmulinson, a Jewish carpenter, carrying a big cross on his back. They think it's a Bibleic re-enactment and keep waiting for the logical conclusion: crucifixion. Nikita sends the people home, although a few monks grumble that it's not Christian to bring a cross and not crucify someone.

Live-Action TV

  • '70s House (US;MTV)
  • The 1900s House
  • The 1940s House (2001) (UK)
  • Back In Time For Dinner (UK 2015) and 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.
  • Churchills Secret Agents The New Recruits: It revolves around a group of contemporary civilians being given the same training as members of Special Operations Executive during WW2. As in the real school, the trainees could be washed out if they didn't make the grade.
  • Colonial House (2004) (US; PBS show set in the American frontier of 1628)
  • The Comic Strip Presents: "Summer School" is an early send-up of the genre. The premise for the title institution is an attempt at historical recreation of a Stone Age/Bronze Age settlement that ends disastrously when one of the students is mistaken for having died and an attempt to burn his body on a funeral pyre leads the entire settlement to be burned to the ground.
  • Evacuation (2006) (UK; CBBC show with City Mouse kids sent to WWII countryside)
  • Frontier House (2002) (US; PBS show set in the American frontier of 1883)
  • Ghost Adventures: They do this in order to get the feeling for many locations, and as a result, some of the bloodless carnage filmed for the recreation becomes Narmtastic.
  • Kid Nation: Forty kids between the ages of 8 to 15 try to create a functioning society by themselves in the ghost town of Bonanza City.
  • Klondike The Quest For Gold: Five people recreate the journey and conditions of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. They are supplied with traveling gear, mining equipment, an old boat, food for three months, 3000 pounds, and clothes from the era and start in Alaska.
  • 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.)
  • Manor House: A modern-day, moderately well-to-do British family experiences life in an English country estate at the height of the The Edwardian Era. Other normal people are hired to take the roles of servants and staff.
  • Le Moyen 1903 (2003) (Switzerland/TSR)
  • Le Pensionnat de Chavagnes (2004) (France ; 1950's schooling)
  • Pioneer Quest: A Year in the Real West (2000) (Canada)
  • Quest For The Bay (2002) (Canada)
  • Regency House Party (2004) (UK)
  • The Ship (2002) (UK)
  • Surviving The Iron Age (2001) (UK, remake of the above, but with less historic accuracy)
  • Tales From The Green Valley (UK 2005), Victorian Farm (UK 2009), followed by Edwardian Farm (2010), Wartime Farm (2012) and Tudor Monastery Farm (2013) and more loosely by Victorian Pharmacy (2010). These were rather different, as the participants are experts on historical cookery, crafts, etc., and not 'ordinary people'.
  • Texas Ranch House: The show is set in the Texas frontier of 1867, in which 15 modern-day men and women experience the conditions of a cattle ranch.
  • That'll Teach 'Em: Thirty modern teenage graduates go to a 1950s-ambiented UK high school. Not only do their values crash but they are subjected to inflexible teachers, strict clothing codes, exams based on rote memorization, and grueling manual work.
  • That Mitchell And Webb Situation: The Early 1990s House, where you have to cope with 28k dialup.
  • Warrior Challenge (2004) (US)

Western Animation


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