This Extremely Old House

What's the surest sign that the reality-TV craze is out of control? Not last week's "Survivor" ratings triumph over "Millionaire." How about a delicious voyeur program from PBS? "The 1900 House" is set in an English town house meticulously restored to turn-of-the-20th-century conditions. The Bowlers, a seemingly normal family with a high threshold for history, live there for three months exactly like Victorians. Except for the TV cameras, which allow us to watch everyday items, such as chamber pots, hog-hair toothbrushes and a coal-burning stove, bring an entire family to its knees. "1900" might have come off as a "This (Very) Old House" crossed with a never-ending history lesson if it weren't for the overwhelmed but determined Bowlers. Joseph, 9, won't eat the vintage cooking. Kathryn, 17, hates the clothes and wants her MTV. Twins Hilary and Ruth, 11, constantly run to the closet rigged with a camera to complain about the overall misery. Mom Joyce, 44, who apparently got the family into this mess by entering a nationwide contest, bears the brunt of the hardship. She does most of the cooking and cleaning--and she does it in a corset. Joyce insists on playing by the rules, even when the shampoo--made from cow fat and perfume--makes her hair fall out. She even learns how to make her own "sanitary rag belt." Let's see those tough women on "Survivor" top that.

The 1900 HousePBS
Premiers June 12

This Extremely Old House | News