The Colony

I just gained a little respect for reality television.

Last night saw the premiere of “The Colony” on the Discovery Channel. I hadn’t heard about this show prior to seeing a commercial for it during “Deadliest Catch,” but I was quickly intrigued. The premise behind the show is in a post-apocalyptic world, 10 survivors have to make due for 10 weeks, foraging for whatever they can and living with no amenities besides what their skills can supply them.

The show’s contestants were isolated for 30 hours with no sleep and little nourishment and sent out to find food for themselves before searching out shelter. They wind up in a 50,000 square foot warehouse, which they will call home for the next two and a half months. They have to scour for food and water and whatever tools they can find. But, in addition to that, they have to fend off the aggression of a biker gang who are looking to take what they have.

The amount of detail put into the show by the producers is astounding. The desolation that is Los Angeles is something out of a movie, and it feels real. It’s so real that it seems almost as if you are watching news footage after a cataclysmic event. Discovery called on the help from experts in Homeland Security, psychology, and engineering to design a world that looks and feels like a truly destroyed world. So much has been put into the show that it is less “Reality TV” and more “Social Experiment.” How will normal people who are used to free-flowing electricity, running water, and a Piggly Wiggly every few blocks fare in a world where none of that exists? It becomes an interesting case study into the human psyche.

The people that they chose are from all walks of life; doctor, engineer, general contractor, martial arts expert. You can tell that they were each chosen for the knowledge that they have, in hopes that they can bring something to the table to help the team survive. This is where I’m a little skeptic of the show. Everyone has a necessary skill that it seems like they can’t fail. I feel that they should have picked at least one “average Joe” guy, or girl, with no discernible expertise. The social experiment would fly with someone like that, seeing how that person would contribute anything, showing how far the human spirit would go to survive. Throughout the show, these experts chime in on what the group is doing and why they are reacting as they are. It gives some insight into who we are as a species and how quickly survival instincts resurface after years of dormancy.

Although, I can foresee some bad things happening later in the show. Out of the 10 survivors, only 6 of them were allowed into the colony at the beginning. A day later, the remaining four were sent out to find shelter. The problem was, both parties had been ignorant of the other. When the second group got to the Colony, they were met with hostility by the first group, who greeting them with metal pipes and suspicion. Even when the biker gang stole their food in the beginning, I don’t know how they were able to retrain themselves from causing harm to the thieves. Though they state that everything feels so real that their perceptions are beginning to blur, there is clearly a distinct line between reality and fantasy. So far, none of them have crossed that line, but it would be interesting to see someone do so.

I’ve never been a huge fan of shows on the Discovery Channel, but I think “The Colony” has changed that. For once, a show manages to put together a good principle and ties it together with deep, psychological study. With the way the world is now, many people would believe that a catastrophe is looming, and life in “The Colony” will soon be more science than fiction. If that’s true, then I’ll continue to tune in just so I have some pointers when the end of the modern world does come. I’ll be ready, assuming, at least, that I survive the first wave of destruction.

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