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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Frontier House

This has to be the third or fourth time that I have watched the PBS series  Frontier House (on DVD from the library). This time around Becca and Joe are also watching it along with me.

This program is about three real life families from 2002 who spend 5 months on the frontier, as if it were really 1883. 

Anyway, I was curious how this experience changed these people's lives, 13 years afterwards. I did a little googling and found out that:

*Nate and Kristen Brooks have three children now and do a lot of traveling around the world. Their Facebook page is a bit outdated but is fun to read nonetheless.

*Mark and Karen Glen are divorced. You could easily see that tension in their marriage throughout the show, and a separation was shown during the ending of the series. Mark didn't enjoy coming back to the 21st century and instead went back to live on the ranch. I can't find any more about the book he mentioned working on. 

*Gordon and Adrienne Clune divorced soon after the show as well. It sounds like the show changed them the least, as per their divorce records they went on to buy million dollar homes (one 2.5 million, one 6 million). Last reported, Adrienne is now a chief and was reported to be dating again and Gordon remarried.   

I wasn't surprised to see that Nate and Kristen Brooks are still together and traveling as they were the most likeable and adventurous couple in the show.  I wish I could have found more out about Karen's lifestyle nowadays. I'm shocked at Gordon and Adrienne's divorce. While they were the least likeable on the show, and quite the "Malibu power couple" they did at least seem to have a good marriage. I suppose appearances (especially on "reality television"!) can be deceiving! I had hoped, I think, to see that these couples weren't able to return back to a normal 21st century life (well, I suppose Mark wasn't able to). I was expecting them to have a little acreage, or be one of those "tiny house" people. Something along those lines. I imagine that an experience of living off the land for 5 months would change me and my family completely.   

Did you watch Frontier House when it originally aired? What did you think of the series?


  1. never saw this but would be interested in watching it.

    1. It's an amazing program...you'd love it!!

  2. Hi Elizabeth!
    This is Kristen, from Frontier House. So sweet to find your write up of the show. I need to update my FB page more...but I never know what to say. Nate and I have 3 kids (15 years since the show!) We now have kids OLDER than Logan & Connor at the time. I wish we could do it again. I'm offering teleconference calls where people can get on the phone with me and ask me questions about the show....more info on our FB page, link is above. Thanks for your blog post! xoxo Kristen

    1. Glad I found you on Facebook. It would be nice to hear a bit more about how Karen is doing. I've read about the Clune family, so disappointed. Im excited to hear more about you, Nate and the children. I wish PBS would do another show with interviews with all of the participants, to catch up and see where everyone is now.
      Looking forward to your response,

  3. How cool is that. Kristen replied. :) I think the show was a great idea but I wish they would have covered more of the ways in which the individual families went about doing the activities and have covered less on the personal disagreements between them. There were times when I felt like the focus of the show was the negative interaction. I also feel like that show may have missed its era. If done today, with growing homesteading popularity, it would likely have a greater following. Beside, my wife and I could give it a go!!

  4. Hi Elizabeth,

    I worked at Klune Industries for 3 1/2 years right before the show aired. I knew the Clunes also outside of work as they were friends of my family in La Canada (before they lived in Malibu) in California. So I knew Gordon and Adrienne and their kids personally. I was in my late twenties back then and worked as an aerospace engineer.

    All I can say is the Clune family got what they deserved. That show pretty much ruined their multi-million dollar family business as their big aerospace contracts eventually fell apart after the show. Gordon told his customers to watch the show, and the aerospace customers (Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop G. etc) did not like what they saw, the CEO and his family cheating and whining like a baby.

    My experience with Gordon was interesting, he is a self absorbed man and very degrading to his wife. A spoiled brat actually. Out in public he would gawk and comment inappropriately at other women (e.g. breast size) in front of his wife, children and friends...very uncomfortable to say the least. Even his kids were out of control. I have countless examples that I can mention. Like the time Justin shot his grandfather in the forehead with a pellet, or BB gun for example. Adrienne did the right thing, she ran when she had a chance. The show gave her the inertia to do so. Unfortunately she ran off with the shows producer, so like you said, never really learnt their life's lesson. She even ran away from her two little boys as they were basically mini Gordons..

    Sorry, I know this post is pretty late.

    Oh well, I hope maybe they have grown up since then.

  5. Thank you for that insight into the Clunes, Anonymous. Do you know how they are doing now? I liked Justin and Conor on the show.... Have they turned out well?

  6. I have watched it a ton of times as well. Thanks for the updates. I was wondering what the clunes were up to and so happy for the brooks family

  7. I just revisited Frontier House, because I remembered being fascinated by it when it first aired. I didn't remember much about the families. Nate, Kristen and Rudy were my favorites. Loved the pet goat. I also liked Tracy Clune and Logan Patton. What a great little personality he had. I thought his mother was quite mean to him when they killed his favorite chicken and pig. She even snickered when they were eating the pig at dinner. Karen was my least favorite person on the show. Not surprised she and her husband got divorced, as she was making fun of him on camera and he was backbiting her with insulting comments. How did they ever get married in the first place? It was so sad to see The Clunes in that huge, sterile looking Malibu house at the end. They all looked unhappy and Adrienne had looked much better without makeup. Gordon seemed to enjoy his physical labor on the program. I hardly ever watch reality shows, but like many, wanted to know what it was like for frontier families. The West was certainly romanticized in film and TV. I wouldn't have lasted a day. Still, I applaud Mark Glenn for going back to a simpler, more peaceful life. I wish I could do that. Am living in Seattle, which is bursting at the seams and fast becoming unlivable, Have been searching for a smaller community I can move to, but it isn't easy. Thank you for this blog. Janet, Seattle, WA

  8. I truly enjoyed the series. I thought all the children seemed happier living that life style, and after five months I have always wondered how hard was it to come back to reality. I would have enjoyed seeing more of how to actually live in work back in the day.

  9. So many years later and I am still watching this and loving it. Longing to live that life myself. I can completely understand why Mark Clune went back to Montana to live a more simple life. It's amazing to me to see my own reaction to the three families back in 2001, when it aired and now, 16 years later. Rudy, Nate and Kristen are still my favorite people. I would love to see a 2017 update on their beautiful family. Karen was the one I could most relate to and admired her work ethic. Mark- I felt his loneliness and sadness when he had to leave. While Adrianne was an amazing mom, housekeeper and cook, Gordon drove me crazy. And now years later, watching him again is reminding me of Pres.# 45. Dishonest, cheater, out for himself, rules don't apply to him, above the law and unethical. I am surprised his business in the 21st Century continued to be a success. I wouldn't do business with a guy who admittedly will break the rules whenever he wants! I wish PBS would do another series like this and do an update on these families.

  10. Without a doubt the Brooks family unit was the most likable. How have they financially sustained their live style in the 16 years since?
    This sight has exposed perhaps too crudely the implosion of the Clune household, which has come as a surprise given their shared materialistic values.
    The most unfortunate would be the Glenns. Mark truly was odd man out, but by no means a loser.
    The series is fresh in my mind and I see unexpected resourcefulness and strengths in each of the adult participants. Apparent also are their individual vulnerabilities and character flaws. The then minors are allowed to be the malcontents they were.
    I thank each of them for their willingness to have documented all that was said and done.

  11. I own this series and have watched it many times over the years. I loved Karen and Glenn and their not pretentiousness. I was sad when their relationship fell apart on screen, and I love their humble children. I thought the Clune's were despicable and loathsome. I sure would like to know what happened to Mark as I went out to that area a few years ago in Livingston Montana and went to the museum there and inquired about Mark and the show but the curator hadn't heard that Mark was still around. You can find pics of Karen Glenn online with her grown up son. I still remember her monologue about feeling ugly and unpopular amongst the more popular women and feel sad. Who doesn't love the Brooks? I had a crush on Nate's older brother! What a lovely family the Brooks are.



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