A new reality TV show will start next week in German television. The new show – initially planned to be called “Utopia” – starts now as “Newtopia”. The SAT 1 show was invented by John Del Mol who is also responsible for the first of all reality TV show: “Big Brother”, named after Orwell `s 1984 .
While I always found “Big Brother” deadly boring, having just recently planned an utopian village as a study group project – when I red about this new show I got so excited that I had to find out more about it.
Source: Augsburger Allgemeine
While “Big Brother” and the subsequent reality TV shows are mainly focused on making fun of the participants (“Frauentausch”, “The Biggest Looser”) or about consumerism and status (“Shopping Queen”; “Mieten, Kaufen, Wohnen”; “Dschundelcamp”), the plot of “Newtopia” appears to be rather different.
In this social experiment, a group of 15 so called pioneers with very different expectations of an ideal society leave their everyday life behind. For one year, the pioneers built a completely new community, starting with only one shed, 2500 m2 of land, 5000 € starting capital, the clothes they wear and a few animals. They start in a state if complete anarchy and have to start by establishing a political and economic order. Will they go for democracy or perhaps they will choose a king or queen? And of course by prioritising what to do first. But will they start by building some beds or toilets, a heating system or by growing some food? While people from outside are allowed to enter Newtopia, the pioneers are not allowed to leave the village.
Source: Abendzeitung München
The prototype for “Newtopia” has been aired on Dutch television and was with 1 Mio viewers – of just 16 Mio citizens – so successful that a second year followed. In contrast to that, the US version was cancelled after just two month as it turned out to be “seven top models and eight bachelors on holidays in California”.
The German version will certainly not end up as a summer holiday. Starting in awful German winter time, situated just outside if Berlin, near the small village Königs Wusterhausen – an area which would not exactly be my first idea when thinking about building an utopia – the pioneers have to some serious work before they can lay back and get comfi. But perhaps to start utopia it doesn`t have to be a place as paradise-like as in Dirk Fleck`s “Tahiti Project”? We`ll see how the candidates will cope with meeting their basic needs such as food and shelter.
Speaking of the candidates – not less than 8000 people applied to be one of the “pioneers” and 100 of the application videos are even displayed on the official Newtopia website. One of the successful applicants who will move to Newtopia next week is Karolina, a vegan graphic designer who studies in Berlin and works just as much as she needs to make a living in order to do whatever she wants to the rest of the time. She says that she decided to move to Newtopia because she wants to create a better world and to change something.
Amongst the other pioneers, one can find a cashier, and architect, a key account manager and many others with an age range between 19 and 60. So the demographics of the participants are not exactly comparable to those of typical reality TV show, who are either forgotten starts desperately aiming for media attention or bored housewives.
Source: Abendzeitung München
While some newspaper refer to the new TV series as “Outdoor Big Brother“, other newspaper call the reality show “the show of the year” and even compare it to “The Hunger Games”. But whether this show will really give us some interesting insights into human nature, into the ways in which we cope with such fundamental issues and how we would build a state if we could start off right from the start, or whether it will be just another reality TV show which makes fun of the participants is now up to the production company. We will lean back and wait for Monday night.