‘You vs. Wild’, which aired on April 10, 2019, is Netflix‘s next big step in interactive entertainment or the ‘choose your own adventure’ genre, as we had reported. Although the streaming giants had already begun pushing entertainment to new realms with this technique earlier, they were mostly through shows aimed at children. ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch‘ was the first foray Netflix made into entertainment aimed at adults, that demanded participation from them, and pleased at the response and acclaim it received, Netflix decided to expand its library and move into other genres.
Netflix’s Director of Product Innovation, Carla Engelbrecht said as much to IGN, stating, “So we had seen from the kids’ titles, the kids would engage. They would make active choices. But we didn’t know what adults would do and what we saw with Bandersnatch is that the adults engaged even more than kids. We saw 94% of adults actually making active choices which is just an absolutely thrilling number for us.” She continued, “And what I’m really excited about is that this is not just about a couple of genres. It’s that we’re exploring: what is it in horror, what is it in sci-fi, what is in romance or telenovelas, what is it for young adults?” The possibilities for more experiences like Bandersnatch and You vs. Wild appears to be limitless.”
While this certainly sounds exciting for Netflix and its viewers, ‘You vs. Wild’ is a very different ball game from ‘Bandersnatch’ insofar as it is not shot in a closed set. It is shot out in the open, and often in highly risky and adverse environments. This series effectively take the interactive experience to the next level where viewers control how the adventure unfolds, and thus decides the fate of the real-life star of the show, Bear Grylls. Those who have seen ‘Bandersnatch’ must have felt the pressure of controlling someone else’s life, and making choices, not to mention the dark nature of the content which often led to the protagonist’s death. However, viewers had the mental safety of knowing that it was ultimately a show and the character did not exist in real life. Making choices for Grylls will be infinitely more dangerous since viewers will be exposed to hostile environments and their dangers, and their choices will carry more weight since it will decide the fate of a real person.
With great power must come great responsibility, but while viewers might be hesitant, Grylls and his team were the ones who wanted to make a show where viewers chose how the adventure unfolded. This was confirmed by Engelbrecht, who said, “They saw that we were doing it in the kids’ space and they had some folks on their team who were super passionate about it and so they came to us. I think they had already two different episode ideas. They’d draw maps. They were totally into it.” Considering Grylls’ willingness to let others decide his fate in high stakes, high-risk environments, here we tackle the question about how real or fake ‘You vs. Wild’ really is, and whether our choices can really kill hardened survivalist and famed adventurer, Bear Grylls.
You vs. Wild: Details of the Team
‘You vs. Wild’ is a family interactive adventure show that has Bear Grylls, Chris Grant, Drew Buckley, Howard Owens, Delbert Shoopman, Ben Silverman, and Rob Buchta on board as executive producers. Ben Simms is in charge of directing the show while Electus and Bear Grylls Ventures are the production companies backing this venture.