Verdict: Good Stuff!
“The Colony” is a reality show on The Discovery Channel that follows a group of people in a controlled environment simulating a post-apocalyptic world and how those people might survive in it. It has had a two season run so far and doesn’t seem to be losing steam. Each season a group of 10 people is brought together and they have to figure out how to survive for 10 weeks. As with any of these shows, it is never as simple as “let’s see what they come up with.” For added reality, the producers brought in actors to play gangs, traders, and other survivors to invent some scenarios that the colonists would likely face.
As with any reality show, you can assume that there isn’t much “reality” involved. However, unlike most other reality shows, there is no prize or “winner”. Everyone that starts the show, will end the show unless circumstances dictate that they be removed (getting lost, simulated death, actual injury, deserting to the gangs, etc.). This is one of the things I liked the most about the show, it makes it seem more like a social experiment than a television show and makes it more interesting to watch than if someone were “voted off” every week.
I also enjoyed seeing the ideas that were tossed around in order to make improvements to the colony: a wood gas generator, water purification systems, a flame thrower, a spark-gap transmitter, an alcohol still, a metal forge, a meat smoker, they even figured out how to make a toilet flush without working plumbing! Now, whether or not any of these people had these ideas or they were given to them for the sake of the show is debatable, but honestly… Who cares? It made the show better and if you’re able to suspend disbelief for 44 minutes at a time it shouldn’t matter.
I keep seeing the same comment over and over again: “These people are dumb and they can’t act. The world hasn’t really ended, they know that in 70 days they get to go back to warm beds, hot meals, and cell phones. They couldn’t have forgotten all that. They’re so stupid.” And to that I refer people to the Stanford Prison Experiment (http://www.prisonexp.org/) in which the participants took on the roles of guards and prisoners and the experiment was shut down 6 days in because it became too real for the participants. Ultimately, if you pretend something is real long enough, you will start to actually believe it after a while.
One of the things that I enjoyed the most was that the first season of this show was essentially a post-apocalyptic think tank. They through so much brain power together that it was scary what they came up with. I think, given time, the colonists from season 1 would have become a dominant force in theoretical post-apocalyptic L.A.
All in all, its an entertaining show that will introduce you to some interesting survival ideas. You just need to look passed the innate contrived nature of reality programming.