Fox recently launched an ambitious (and expensive) experiment. Their new $US50 million reality show Utopia set out to discover what happens when you put a diverse group of Americans on a ranch in the middle of nowhere to set up a perfect society. The answer? Apparently nothing terribly interesting happens. Because the show has been cancelled after less than two months.
Admittedly, I only watched the first episode, but that was more than enough to figure out that this series wouldn't be with us for very long. Yes, it was in many ways a throwback to reality TV's roots, like 1990s iterations of The Real World and 2000's Survivor. The idea being that if you put enough people with differing worldviews together there's bound to be a lot of sex and violence. But that's precisely why this series couldn't live up to its name.
No doubt many network executives will place the blame at the unconventional conceit of the show: There was no prize. The goal was for these people to set up a perfect society over the course of a year. But that's only half the reason this show was such a terrible idea from the beginning. Without any commonly held beliefs, they were doomed to fail — which again, will probably be passed off as the entire point during the network postmortem.
"Isn't America a bit like Utopia?" some Fox network executive probably said to himself in the bathroom mirror this morning. "Makes you think," he no doubt whispered to his reflection before freebasing a pile of Clearasil.
What would have been more interesting? Put a group of people with similar ideologies together to set up their own society "from scratch." Whether it was Libertarians or Communists or Taylor Swift fans, it still would have been much more interesting than throwing together a bunch of people with no common ideology to bind them. Any conflicts would actually be interesting, and a much more worthy concept than what amounted to Real World: Middle of Nowhere.
RIP Utopia (2014-2014)
Image: Screenshot from the opening titles of Fox's Utopia