Discovery’s The Colony strands 10 people in post-apocalyptic world

Following its other great survival reality series such as The Alaska Experiment, Discovery debuts another extreme survival reality show, The Colony, at 10 p.m. ET tonight. Produced and narrated by Deadliest Catch producer Thom Beers, it follows a group of “colonists” who will live for 10 weeks in a simulated post-disaster world.

Essentially, it’s like Survivor without the social game or the stunning natural backdrops, as they’re stranded in a massive urban compound/warehouse and forced to survive for 10 weeks without electricity, running water, or communication. So, it’s like a version of Big Brother with a nicer house.

The show has cast people of varying ages and backgrounds with actual skill sets as a good foundation, and the situation and their stressful situation–plus strong personalities–leads to some interesting interaction and, of course, conflict.

Throughout the show, experts talk about why the contrived or set-up parts of the show are realistic for a post-catastrophe world, and seem intent on proving that a lot of care has been taken to make it as realistic as possible. The network says the warehouse space was “designed by experts in homeland security, engineering and psychology using elements from both real-life disasters and models of what the future could look like after a global catastrophe.” And it’s clear they’re really living in an extremely challenging and genuine environment. (A Discovery Q&A with Beers covers some of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the show.)

The most obvious manipulation has to do with the “gang of looters and thugs” the producers send to try “to threaten the colonists’ resources and stability” by breaking into the space and otherwise terrorize the colonists. These marauders “have instructions not to harm the colonists physically,” but totally freak out the colonists, and that’s both fun to watch and intriguing in terms of what it exposes.

Watch the first few minutes of the series:

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.