First thoughts on Opposite Worlds, aka Glass House 2.0

ABC’s short-lived competition series The Glass House is back, it feels like, in Syfy’s new competition series Opposite Worlds, which takes much more from that series than it does from Big Brother–though of course, Glass House improved on the CBS summer competition.

The major addition and twist here is that one team lives in relative poverty while the other lives in relative luxury. It’s a fun conceit that adds stakes, though so far those don’t seem to be impacting the players too much. After a few weeks, though, perhaps the desire to switch sides–or maintain–will become much stronger.

The show continues tonight with a live episode, and those are always hit-or-miss, so we’ll see how it goes. But here are some brief initial thoughts about the first episode:

  • The Glass House‘s fingerprints are all over this, starting with the disembodied voice giving direction (oh, RIP Ori), and continuing to the social media, where “you can change the outcome of the game”: the most- and least-popular contestants each week get a reward or punishment, respectively.
  • How exactly this game is played isn’t yet clear, though tonight’s live elimination episode may answer lingering questions. Currently, it seems like there isn’t much of a game for the players except competing in competitions. This, too, is very Glass House: all that seems to matter is appealing to viewers. The episode concluded with teams giving immunity to two people, and then a barrage of information from host Luke Tipple: We choose “the decider” (sigh), and then that person picks people to compete in the “duel of destiny” (oh my), and then one person goes home, apparently.
  • Another challenge decides who lives in which side of the house. I’m wondering if there might eventually be disadvantages to the future side, since the winning team doesn’t automatically go to the future, but gets to choose.
  • The opening was nice and dramatic, though I kind of wish they’d started the game in their underwear instead of the costumes.
  • The set design is impressive, especially for Syfy, and especially the future half of the house. It manages to look expensive.
  • I love that the past side doesn’t even get a loudspeaker, but has to learn what’s going on from other contestants tapping on the glass and shouting at them.
  • The challenge, while a very basic Survivor head-to-head challenge, made my jaw drop when the host revealed that they’d also be able to tase each other. But it turned out to be more dangerous from the 10-foot fall, as there were multiple injuries, including a sever one requiring an ambulance.
  • The cast overall seems okay, with a few interesting people and a few annoying people. Hard to get a full sense of everybody in a single episode, which makes the online voting thing a challenge. At this point, does anybody care enough to vote for someone?

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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.