Netflix’s recent launch of a new Bear Grylls show is no surprise. The name ‘Bear Grylls’ is in itself associated with adaptability, sturdiness and intelligence. His popular Man vs. Wild series captured audiences around the world as Grylls survived harsh terrains with basic training and his instincts. Grylls became so popular that celebrities started traveling with him to taste the zest of adventure.
Yet, this is clearly not enough. Netflix has taken its own choose-your-own-story interactivity of Bandersnatch and incoroporated it into reality, survival television. In You vs. Wild, Grylls does as you want him to; in other words, you are now in charge of his survival. The statement itself sends shivers. If anyone is desired to live vicariously through Bear Grylls, this is their moment. If Grylls’s show combined knowledge and drama into the realm of reality television, Netflix has pushed it further by putting the audience into the equation.
Why see if you can qualify for Survivor when you can, from the comfort of your bedroom, just switch on Netflix and chill your way down a rocky crag as Bear Grylls? It seems like the ultimate cosplay fantasy come to life. Ultimately, this may be the evolution of media as we come to know it. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are slowly becoming integrated into mainstream usage. Shows like Bandersnatch and You vs. Wild seem to be preliminaries for that transition.
The last century saw the advent of video gaming culture and its ability to manoeuvre the story in a way that the player becomes the producer. The rise of social media and YouTube itself are additional indicators that mark how audiences interact nowadays. They wish for their entertainment to be customised for them. They probably also wish for it to have the highs and lows of a game, where the outcome seems to be under their control.
The key word here is control. We wish to be able to have more input in what we watch and how we watch it. This new technology may easily transfer to other genres of television. Think of series such as Hannibal, Dexter or Breaking Bad — if one wishes to be Walter White then this is the closest thing in doing just that, without being pressed charges. Or, better yet, you can choose ethical choices to have a better outcome.
Now, you get to decide if that is all is written. You vs. Wild premieres on Netflix on April 10th.