Yes, it's true. No pictures yet. I've been isolated from uploading. On my camera right now sits a horsie nose, and a fake hurricane, and a giant shadow insect crouched on the roof of a church. At some point, you will see them, and you will be envious.
Last night was the finale of my new favorite reality, Discovery's Out of the Wild: The Alaskan Experiment. The quick and fatal synopsis is that they leave 9 people out in the middle of the woods, with a map and very limited tools. Then those people have to hike back to civilization without knowing where it is or how far it is or how long they'll be out there. If they get sick of it, they can press a little button on their gps and a helicopter comes to get them. There is no prize at the end. It's glorious. I hope the show comes back again and again. I hate prizes. Yes, we all know a 100,000 dollars would change your life. No, I don't want to hear about your heartwarming single mother upbringing and then listen to you sob about your kid's lost opportunities, or that fashion line you have to start to be a complete person. I like this whole "nope, I'm just going to do this because" mentality.
Really quickly, within a few days, the group lost half its people. It worked out well, because instead of 9 people arguing and being dimwits, you got to watch five people being decent and rugged and hungry. They couldn't hunt or fish all that well, so they survived by splitting the random gopher between themselves as their only meal for days at a time. Once they killed a porcupine. They hiked in blizzards. They spent 8 hours at a time gathering firewood. Between hikes, the producers set up overnight spots for them, which was anything from an old hunting cabin to a crashed airplane they camped under the wing of. They never knew what they were in for, something warm or something crappy? Are there any beans? How will we fill the gaps to stop the snow getting in? And through it all, as they starved and froze and inwardly crumbled under depression, they had no idea how long they would have to do this. That's the really impressive part. That's the part that would have killed me.
It was heartbreakingly sad last night, because one of the final five quit literally a mile before they found their way out. She just couldn't stand the not knowing anymore. We, the audience, knew. So I was literally on the verge of tears, watching her leave. I wanted to scream at her to just hold on a little longer. I liked her, because she taught the others how to skin things.
And the ones that stayed? I don't think I've ever felt as happy for a tv show contestant as I was for them, watching them stumble into the abandoned hunting cabins, and then finally find the train tracks. There was this dumb shit where the producers were all like "since it's illegal to break into houses and trespass, they can't do it." If I've been stranded in the wilderness for a month bivouacking in pine trees and eating snow with cayenne pepper to stave off crippling hunger, I'm breaking into a house. No question. I would expect the owners to expect me to, quite frankly. Isn't it in their religion or something? Jack London would not have hesitated.
It was such an accomplishment for them. They will never do anything like that again, and they will always know that at least they did that once. I would like more reality shows like that, please. Ones that give chance of a lifetime challenges, and ones that expect you to be more than you are, be more noble and more tough and a better human. So, not reality, but supercharged reality. Fantasy reality. The kind of stuff they used to write young adult novels about before sex became an okay topic for preteen consumption. Into the woods and out of the woods and home before dark.