Britain is supposed to be a democracy, where everyone’s vote counts – but how can a country claim to be truly democratic when we let dictatorial producers decide what happens in reality TV?
Netflix has a solution to this problem – rather than allowing Bear Grylls to make his own informed decisions based on his lifetime of adventuring in the wild, they put his survival in your hands, in the Bandersnatch-esque interactive survival series You vs. Wild.
Despite the name, You vs Wild doesn’t require you to actually leave your living room – yippee! Instead, you can live vicariously through Bear Grylls and allow him to take the risks for you.
The series is similar to Grylls’ other series, like Bear Grylls: Born Survivor / Man vs Wild, in that it follows his adventures through deserts, mountains, and jungles, except whenever he is faced with an important – sometimes life-threatening – decision, the choice is the viewer’s. This format is similar to the Black Mirror special Bandersnatch, released in 2018.
Unfortunately, viewers aren’t allowed to suggest their own solutions to his predicaments (and given that we voted to name a state-of-the-art underwater autonomous vehicle ‘Boaty McBoatface’, maybe that’s for the best). Instead, we’re given options to choose from, which is admittedly much less fun for us.
Another disappointment – which you’ll definitely notice if you try to murder Grylls – is that like a PC game from the ’90s, the program has been scripted for each series of possibilities and things turn out basically the same at the end of every single one.
Who presents You vs Wild?
You vs Wild
Bear Grylls, Britain’s favourite TV adventurer, presents the series. He is the youngest ever Chief Scout of the United Kingdom and Overseas Territories, and previously served in the UK military.
The producer of the series, Rob Butcha, told Vulture that You vs Wild took months of pre-production, and that each episode took about five days of shooting. Butcha also said that dangerous scenes – like when Bear fell into an ice river – really did happen, but that he’s ‘tough’ and was able to recover. He also was poisoned several times during the making of the series, but had a team of ex-military personnel on hand to ensure his and the crew’s safety during production.
However, it’s important to mention that many of the scenarios were constructed to avoid cruelty – either to the trapped dog, or to Grylls himself – so don’t be alarmed if you see something go really wrong, like when Grylls gets blisters all over his hand from touching a toxic lake (they’re not real!).
Will there be another You vs Wild?
Netflix has not yet confirmed whether there will be another edition of the program.