This week’s discussion: Dual Survival, Season 3, Eps. 1-5. Watch it on Hulu.
Next week’s discussion: The Millionaire Matchmaker, Season 5, Eps. 6-11, 13 (+ Season 2, Ep. 6; Season 3, Ep. 3; Season 4, Ep. 8). Watch it on Hulu.
This week Mike and JS put aside their fundamental differences in podcasting philosophy to make the show’s first foray into the world of survival reality TV – Dual Survival! (Also, apologies to Cody Lundin, as we repeatedly botched the title of the show in the episode, calling it Dual Survivor.)
We begin with a discussion of the main theme of the show: the two hosts and their different backgrounds and philosophy as they attempt to survive for 72 hours in harsh wilderness conditions, specifically identifying the topic of risk vs. reward as the animating center and attempting to determine how much of a hand the production crew has in determining the level of risk in each of these missions.
We then delve into the individual episodes and talk about particular highlights and themes: the level of choreography versus spontaneity in the scenarios, the level of discomfort and physical risk to the hosts, and the tension between its desire to educate and to entertain. Mike even included a bonus rant about the media’s coverage of poaching.
Finally, we wrapped up with a discussion on the demographics of the survival TV audience and the overall appeal of this sub-genre of reality TV, rooting it in an extension of the romanticization of the ‘frontier’ in American culture – with a dash of pointless gossip about the behind-the-scenes drama of the survival TV world.
Show Notes and Links
1:30 / Introducing this week’s show
2:08 / Breaking down the high concept
3:18 / Cody Lundin – our barefoot hero
4:08 / Joe Teti – our military badass
5:13 / JS had some prior knowledge of this show
5:44 / How the hosts’ differences defied Mike’s expectations
6:42 / The main difference in the two hosts’ philosophies was risk-reward
7:40 / To what extent are the producers influencing decisions?
8:20 / 72-hour scenarios (Cody Lundin Interview)
10:06 / Mike wonders if the military aspect is essential or an appeal to a demographic for TV
11:30 / JS thinks the military is actually pretty good training for a situation like this, even if not as thorough as a survival school
13:47 / Mike often found the risks that Joe took to be questionable for a real survival situation as opposed to a TV survival situation
14:56 / The choreography of survival TV – what’s spontaneous and what’s being presented by the producers?
15:50 / Mike gives an example of clear producer intervention
18:32 / A clarification on Joe’s background (Military Times article)
19:45 / Many of these clips were re-used for the behind-the-scenes special
20:36 / Each episode is a structured loosely around a background scenario (lost hiker, stranded glider, etc.)
22:01 / The merits (or lack thereof) of drinking your own urine; psychology v. physiology
23:26 / The educational nuggets – ‘Art of Self Reliance’
23:59 / The introduction of risk v. reward – go up for water or go down for better air?
24:57 / A rare instance where Mike found Joe’s risk-tasking realistic
26:14 / JS doubted the authenticity of the poachers
26:49 / Mike’s rant about ‘white savior’ conservationist narratives
27:42 / Poachers (at least those on ground level) driven by poverty and lack of economic opportunity, not love of killing endangered species
28:30 / Mike found Joe’s comments about the poachers insincere (An article on President Dumbfuck’s ‘hard power’ budget, which was mercifully ignored by Congress)
30:14 / JS’s doubts about the genuineness of the poaching paraphernalia resulted from a steady accumulation of disbelief
32:06 / Mike thinks the camps might be legit, but probably had been abandoned for some time
32:34 / Mike thinks the show misunderstands the role of violence in organized crime (Sudhir Venkatesh’s Gang Leader For A Day)
34:06 / Discussing the role of safety in the series as a whole
34:51 / A rescue of questionable authenticity
36:22 / JS’s LOL moment
37:05 / Mike compares the hosts to Hollywood stuntmen
38:14 / The main risk is mechanical injury, but not dehydration or starvation
38:40 / Mike found the heightened stakes detracted from the spontaneity compared to less dangerous reality shows like Paris Hilton BFF
40:02 / JS liked the show, would watch it outside the confines of the podcast (Finding Bigfoot without the bullshit)
41:30 / Discussing the hosts’ disagreement over the rotting steer
43:14 / If the lesson was to do something uncomfortable to survive, why not show Joe using the hide?
44:48 / Discussing the boar hunt – in both its authentic and fabricated aspects
46:42 / Mike found the crew’s masculine hero-worship over the top; JS was impressed by the technical skill (our different backgrounds in hunting may have shaped our reactions)
48:25 / Talking about the staged nature of the rescue sections
50:15 / Segueing into the allure of survival TV
50:44 / Mike found the gendered appeal noteworthy in the overall context of reality TV
51:27 / The appeal of survival entertainment to those ‘divorced from the land’ and living comfortably
52:33 / Mike thought the show’s aesthetic would appeal to the suburban/rural over the urban
55:39 / Discussing the tension between the show’s educational and entertainment mission
59:30 / Cody Lundin’s criticism of survival TV (TV Guide article on Survival TV that Mike mentions)
1:02:10 / Mike found it interesting that the behind-the-scenes tension never cropped up in the final product
1:03:33 / Introducing the next show – impromptu style