20 of the most relaxing reality TV shows to watch right now

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14. The 1900 House

The Supersizers is well known for its historic focus, but perhaps you think there was too much emphasis on questionable food habits, and not enough on, say, the questionable dressing and personal hygiene standards of the day. If that’s the case, you might enjoy a relaxing (for you, at least) trip to the past via The 1900 House.

First aired on British channel Wall to Wall (now Channel 4) in 1999, The 1900 House follows the modern Bowler family as they live in a historically accurate home for three months. The family themselves are plenty interesting, including mother Joyce, father Paul, son Joe, and daughters Kathryn, Ruth, and Hillary. All six have their own difficulties adjusting to the standards of a century ago, including the often intense patriarchal norms of the time, along with different attitudes towards hair care, cleanliness, and vegetarianism (hint: meat was a big part of the Victorian diet).

However, it’s fair to consider the house itself as its own character. Built in the 1890s, the two-story home had a dining room, kitchen, bathroom, scullery, and a drawing room. The family also had the use of three bedrooms, though a fourth bedroom had to be used as a “safety room” with a modern telephone. There was an additional bathroom outside.

Other than the telephone, workers had to strip back numerous modern elements to bring the home back to its original period state. That meant all electrical appliances were removed, insulation taken out, and the indoor toilet disappeared. Alas, that also meant that central heating was a no-go, making for some chilly days.

Period-appropriate appliances were installed, including fireplaces and a cast-iron oven, which helped to offset some of the cold mornings and evenings. Joyce and her daughters also had to learn how to work the “copper”, a large pot meant to heat water for washing clothes. Of course, that meant practically all the laundry was done by hand or with only a little help from basic machines.

The 1900 House touched off a minor craze for historical reenactment shows, wherein modern people are plopped down into often uncomfortable historic settings. In the U.K., that included Edwardian Country House, Regency House Party, and the ominously named Victorian Slum House. The U.S. produced its own programming in this vein, including Frontier House (set in Montana) and Texas Ranch House.