‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Gilbert Knows Why Fans Are Still Watching the Show

Melissa Gilbert starred in Little House on the Prairie as Laura Ingalls Wilder for nine seasons. In the ninth season, the show was renamed Little House: A New Beginning to focus on Ingalls Wilder and her relationship with Almanzo Wilder (Dean Butler).

While Little House on the Prairie went off the air in 1983, the show is still beloved by fans today. Gilbert believes there is a reason Little House on the Prairie has stood the test of time.

Little House on the Prairie
Melissa Gilbert as Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder, Lindsay or Sydney Greenbush as Carrie Ingalls, Melisssa Sue Anderson as Mary Ingalls Kendall | Ted Shepherd/NBCU Photo Bank

‘Little House on the Prairie’ is about the Ingalls family

Little House on the Prairie is based on the Little House book series written by Ingalls Wilder. The books were about Ingalls Wilder’s life growing up between the years 1870 and 1894.

At the start of the first season, the Ingalls family moves to a farm near Walnut Grove, Minnesota. The series follows the family’s life in Walnut Grove and their relationships with the townspeople.

Michael Landon portrayed Charles Ingalls, Karen Grassle portrayed Caroline Quiner Ingalls, Gilbert played Ingalls Wilder, Melissa Sue Anderson played Mary Ingalls Kendall, and identical twin sisters Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush portrayed Carrie Ingalls.

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Melissa Gilbert on why the show is so popular

On Aug. 26, Gilbert sat down for a virtual interview with Access Hollywood. In the interview, Gilbert talked about how she is spending quarantine due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. She also discussed the timelessness of Little House on the Prairie.

“I think it’s probably a combination of things,” she said. “People are wanting comfort television and they’re going back to what brings them that sense of when things were simpler and things were easier.”

Gilbert continued, “People must remember also that when Little House on the Prairie debuted we were in the middle of, at that point, the worst recession the country’s ever seen. So, we were sort of there to show people that if pioneers could make it through all that stuff we could make it through the 1970s.”

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Gilbert believes that the show’s message has resonated with audiences, especially if viewers are going through hard times.

“And I think again, here we are going ‘OK, they did that, they did that. This is our time to shine and become even better that we were before, hopefully,'” she said. “And those — the things that make that happen are family, community, compassion, love. That’s it.”

Melissa Gilbert grew up playing Laura Ingalls Wilder on ‘Little House on the Prairie’

Little House on the Prairie premiered in 1974 and ended in 1983. When the show premiered, Gilbert was only 10 years old. In 2009, she published a memoir titled Prairie Tale: A Memoir, and she spoke to Erin Burnett on Today to discuss the book and show.

“By child-actor standards, mine was probably the best experience that you could have… I was the opposite of what you would expect a child star to be,” she said.