Roush Review: PBS’s ‘Victorian Slum House’

Shopkeeper Adrian Bird

Many reality shows like to think they’re social experiments. Victorian Slum House takes it a step further: It’s a social history lesson. In the engaging tradition of The 1900 House, The 1940s House and Frontier House, this five-part series invites modern families to step back in time to a meticulously re-created milieu, where they experience firsthand the primitive conditions of East End London tenement life from the 1860s to the 1900s. For some, it’s a chance to reconnect with their ancestral past and discover what it’s like to live day to day, with shelter and food the only priorities. “They must have had enormous strength,” a mother tearfully concludes. Survivor is a cakewalk by comparison.

Victorian Slum House, Premieres Tuesday, May 2, 8/7c, PBS (check local listings at