‘Little House on the Prairie’: Melissa Gilbert Described Differences of Show’s Four Different Groups of Fans

by Matthew Wilson
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“Little House on the Prairie” was highly popular when it aired in the 1970s. The show continues to be a slice of classic television for many audiences. But if series star Melissa Gilbert was to describe the fanbase, she would group them into four categories.

There are segments of fans that enjoy the adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder in different forms. The author left behind a series of books based on her childhood exploits. Producers then adapted those books into the hit TV series. And the books have been adapted several times since then. According to Gilbert, this has resulted in a split fanbase.

In a 2009 interview with the New York Times, Gilbert discussed the various fans of the show. She said she’d need a pie chart to properly categorize them.

“There are book fans, there are TV show fans, there are book-and-TV-show fans. And then there are fans of the [2004] remake miniseries,” Gilbert told the outlet. “Some of the TV show fans are not too thrilled with the miniseries, and there are other divisions along those lines who’s a fan of what. It’s very complex. I need a pie chart to figure it out.”

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Adaptations

In the years since “Little House on the Prairie” went off the air, the books have been adapted several times. For instance, in 2000 and 2002, two television movies “Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder” focused on the real-life story of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Gilbert didn’t reprise her role as the character for the TV movies. Instead, Meredith Monroe played the part. Additionally, “The Waltons” star Richard Thomas stepped in to fill the boots of Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls.

Besides the two television movies, “Little House on the Prairie” attracted new fans with its 2004 miniseries. The series ended up only airing for six episodes, much less than the highly successful original. The miniseries sought to be a straight adaptation of the “Little House on the Prairie” books rather than trying to reinvent the wheel so to speak.

The books were also adapted into a stage play as well with Melissa Gilbert stepping in as her own television mother Caroline Ingalls. The play ended up running for two years from 2008 to 2010. Currently, there are talks of bringing “Little House on the Prairie” back to television screens with a proper reboot. So perhaps the fanbase will grow even larger.

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