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OK, so I'm just going to make this short: The premise is that it's essentially a live action role play scenario.
That said, I think that what most of the reviews have missed so far is that the whole point of this show is to demonstrate a series of actual tasks that *might* have to be accomplished by survivors of an apocalyptic scenario. Yes, some of their successes are a bit far fetched, but to be real, that doesn't make for an entirely compelling narrative. We're not talking about Survivor, we're not talking about realism here. What we're experiencing is a social experiment of a variety.
The first season was more believably populated by people who I would trust in a survival situation, definitely. The second season is markedly less about actually skilled members of the team/colony and more about the psychological make up of a surviving group. Both seasons are compelling because they address many of the questions inherent to survival/post-apocalyptic films and fiction. Would a ragtag group be able to pull it together enough to make it through day-to-day? Would they be able to use enough common sense and basic knowledge to complete complicated and confusing tasks? Could they, ultimately, rely on one another for survival?
Would it be interesting to have it crewed/cast entirely by people who would be useful in a survival scenario: of course. Would it be likely or even realistic for that to be the case: Of course not.
As for staged scenarios, I really can't argue much on that, except to say it makes sense to have tasks be staged as well as to have the raiders and non-colony members be actors and have their reactions staged. That's part of the whole experiment, to demonstrate what's actually going to happen to social reasoning and our understanding of cultural imperatives.
I guess, to once again sum up, I'd say this: If you're looking for something that is compelling and true to life, set up your own colony with your own friends and see how it goes. If you want to see something that's as informative as entertaining, just watch the show and understand you're not watching Survivorman, you're not even watching Man vs. Wild.
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