Fox’s Utopia nowhere near a perfect society

September 13, 2014

utopia-channel4-logo-FrikarteI’m a big fan of social experiments, so one of my most fun classroom activities in the college business classes I taught–on teamwork– involved having the class work as a group to set up a new society after a fictional end of the world. They had to start from scratch–how would the new society be managed? Who would be in charge?

So when I heard that a new TV show was bringing 15 strangers together to form their own Utopia, well, it was irresistible. I had to watch.

The series premiere hadn’t even passed its first hour when it was clear that these 15 “adults” were acting like a bunch of self-centered children. One got alcohol poisoning so bad the producers had to call an ambulance. Another got so drunk he was completely inappropriate with –and threatening to– the women in the community, although even before he got drunk he acted like an idiot. Who waves their penis in women’s faces? And who puts this on TV??

A hillbilly yokel with no teeth thought nothing of purposefully wasting scarce resource–water–as part of a temper tantrum. There was a fist fight.  A couple of the men took their share of the group’s money and bought bologna and chips–their ideal meal–for themselves. “Now we’re eating good!” said one of them. Uh. Yeah. Right.

Meanwhile, the women sat in a circle in a meadow holding hands and practically singing Kumbaya. That is, when they weren’t skinny-dipping at the water hole or giving each other topless hair washes. One 45-year-old woman sat in the corner giving herself a hug. I am not kidding.


By the end of the second episode–I think it was Day 3– it still hadn’t occurred to the group to sit down together, name a person-in-charge and decide on a form of government and how societal functions would be run. Oh, they kept talking about “democracy” but their idea of democracy bore no resemblance to the real thing. It was more like a free-for-all. Obviously, none of them were paying attention in high school civics class.

I can’t imagine any of these extremely stupid people forming a perfect society. Or any kind of functioning community at all.  As the hillbilly yokel keeps saying, “You can’t fix stupid.”  That was the wisest comment I heard in any of the first three hours, and he’s pretty much dumb as a stone.

My students did such a spectacular job in a similar exercise–settling on structure and making decisions at the front end– that this boring, childish group of people on the TV show Utopia  just look stupid. In fact, it looks to me like Fox cast the show with stupidity as the only requirement.

The host asked, “Where is this new world heading?” and I have the answer: “Down the tubes.”

They should rename it…Dystopia.

With such an intriguing concept I had high hopes for the series. This is something PBS ought to get their hands on. But in fact, done by Fox,  it’s just like any other fake reality show. Looks like a big fail to me. I won’t be watching further episodes.

Are you watching?

17 comments on “Fox’s Utopia nowhere near a perfect society
  1. I am so bored by reality TV I tend watch Channel 13, HBO and SHO time ( But I do love The Good Wife.) I had the same class for Poly Sci.or Philosophy ( can’t remember which one) and LOVED it. Created the coolest working society and got an A. I am not surprised Fox chose who they chose–for some reason, American’s want stupid. I wonder if this show was made in Europe or Asia, or overseas in general, what it might look like.Looking forward to Downton Abbey….

  2. Nope. But I started a great new series last night called “The Fall” on netflix! The only reality tv I watch is Survivor, and I watch that only to watch peoples integrity collapse so I can shake my head and wonder “what is this world?”. Oh wait, I lied, I did like to watch that show where they swapped wives. haha 🙂

  3. Oh, my. THIS is exactly why I don’t watch reality TV. Well, unless THE VOICE counts as reality TV. What a bunch of looney tunes.

  4. I can’t watch any of those “reality” shows. They make me feel hopeless for the future of humanity.

  5. I don’t watch reality TV, except on HGTV. One of the Real Housewives of OC husbands is someone I dated when I was in high school/college and that was the weirdest thing to see him on TV. Now he’s on another show, too. Very strange.

  6. I haven’t watched the show, but like you… I was curious. So, thanks! You’ve saved me from 🙂

  7. As much as I hate to admit it, I love watching shows like this just to see how incredibly stupid people can be, Carol. Thankfully, I’m not addicted! 😉

  8. Far from being a selection of regular people from society, part of the pre-show planning was to find the dregs, drunks, and misfits and slap them all together. Makes for sensational programming. Otherwise who would want to watch a group of people who act responsibly towards each other and say memorable lines like, “Gee I don’t miss paying bills at all”.

  9. Idiots, they like FOX and the Tea Party are confusing anarchy (not the libertarianish ideal but the kind with no personal responsibility) with democracy. Democracy requires civic commitment. Perhaps we need to teach Civics again.

  10. Thank you for saving me some time…and YES to Project Runway (did you see the rain-way…too cool!) Have a great weekend, Carol!

  11. Lana says:

    I admit it – I like to watch reality tv. Project Runway is my favorite, followed by the Little Couple. I haven’t seen this one – and it sounds like I need to skip it. I agree it would be a great concept on PBS.

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