Utopia is my favorite new series so far. Granted, it’s way too early to judge, especially considering there are so many new shows that haven’t started and I’ve been dying to see (namely Gotham and How to Get Away with Murder). I’m really enjoying watching these foolish people spend all of their money with absolutely no sense of business. The drama is there, and while it’s too much at times, it’s super engaging. Bella is one of the most interesting characters on reality TV and I’m eagerly awaiting her mental breakdown. I’ve already gone from hating one Utopian to loving them a week later (Josh) and I have my favorites developing (Hex is still up there, and this is partially because I got a Jennifer Lawrence vibe from her this week when she was flirting with newcomer Taylor). I also have the people I can’t stand but not-so-secretly love to hate (Red who is the anti-thesis to Big Brother’s Donny). All in all, Utopia’s cast makes for great television, which is why I’m bummed that it won’t last.
Here’s why Utopia will continue to lose viewers and flop:
- The business: This week Kristen was voted in as the new member of the society. A big reason for her ticket in was that she’s a business savvy girl who knows marketing. Sadly, the group still spent very little time formulating a plan to make money. They came up with the lamest solution ever: to capitalize on the popularity of the show and invite people from the outside world in for yoga classes and additional future attractions like camping, archery, etc. I have a huge issue with this because it feels like they are breaking down the third wall. The Utopians are supposed to create an ideal society and learn to make money on their own, but they are only making money because they are on TV. This seems counterproductive to the purpose of the show, like “look, you can create your own society and it will be a great social experiment, but you’re allowed to make money off of the social experiment which proves that you could never actually sustain your own society in the first place.”
- The outside world: The group was given money to spend on supplies and food. They were told that they can make their own money and buy food with said money. This part I’m okay with, because in reality trading and commerce will happen in a brand new society (ie. most of us do have to rely on others to get what we need). My issue is in allowing the sellers to enter the society. Why did the farmer who sold the rooster get to come in and teach the group how to farm? I want to see these people learn and grow on their own without the help of some random strangers.
- Medical Evacuations: In most reality shows, if someone is forced to leave due to a medical issue, they can’t come back. We’ve already seen Hex evacuated due to alcohol poisoning/dehydration and then return shortly after. This week, Pastor Jonathan also left after breaking his thumb and needing surgery. It was heavily hinted that Jonathan has a welcome invitation to return. He will be out for 6-8 weeks but we’ll be seeing him again. I call bull crap on this. Half the fun of watching a group of strangers stranded in a Utopia is that they are taken away from their family/friends/life. It’s not really fair to rely on a medical team to come save them and then let them leave on hiatus. I get that there’s probably tons of liability for a series to NOT offer medical help, so I can live with that aspect. Ultimately, if an injury is serious enough that it warrants you leaving Utopia, you should stay gone. Give them the Survivor treatment: if medical says they need to leave, then they leave for good and if not, it’s not a serious illness, leave it up to the Utopian to decide if they want to leave and forfeit their right to reenter.
- The Structure: The idea that people will come and go from Utopia is a bit insane. First, they still have not explained how people will leave (to be fair, with the current track record chances are they won’t need to). Second, if people do leave they basically have to re-invent themselves constantly. A new individual brings new skills and new ideas and you’re just asking for a complete re-do. I could see why this constantly changing dynamic could be appealing as an attempt to continue to interest viewers, but I’d rather you just get the casting right the first time and see who sticks it out.
- Dan Piraro: Dan is the host of the show. He’s apparently an illustrator and cartoonist. He should probably stick with that career. The guy is useless. In a world where reality show hosts can win Emmy’s, people like Dan should not exist.