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ABC’s Castaways looks like Alone (and Lost), but with resources and a twist

ABC’s Castaways looks like Alone (and Lost), but with resources and a twist
A scene from the preview of ABC's new reality series Castaways.

A new ABC summer reality series will leave people to survive, alone, though they’ll be able to find each other and have access to resources. Castaways looks and sounds like a mash-up of History’s Alone and ABC’s scripted series Lost (a show that owes its life to CBS’ Survivor), a combination of elements has me very curious to see more.

Castaways will strand 10 people on South Pacific islands, but they’ll be given resources, including what appear to be structures created by the production. They also appear to be filmed by camera crews, so they’re not truly alone.

Those who are stranded will also be told that there are other participants elsewhere, but they won’t know where, or know how long they’ll be stranded for—though they will eventually be rescued, i.e. picked up by the production so the show can end.

All of that makes the new series different than the History’s Alone, which strands people for an indefinite period of time; the last person standing wins. But there are still a lot of similarities, including with Alone’s fourth season, which stranded pairs of people and had one partner attempt to find the other.

The two series do share behind-the-scenes talent: Castaways’ showrunner, Grant Kahler, has been an executive producer on Alone for all five seasons. However, Castaways is produced by Nomad Entertainment, a company I have not heard of, while Alone is produced by Leftfield Pictures.

The show premiers Aug. 7 and airs Tuesdays at 10, after Bachelor in Paradise. (Update: Read my review of Castaways.)

The preview emphasizes what makes the show similar to Lost: flashbacks to the participants’ lives, presumably relating to whatever is happening on the island at that moment.

Castaways’ 12 participants

There’s no word of a prize or a competition in the press release, which describes the show like this:

“Castaways is a revolutionary series testing the human need for companionship under extreme circumstances as each individual learns there are other castaways out there but are unaware of how many, their locations or when they will be rescued. This visually stunning, new reality series follows 12 diverse individuals as they’re dropped alone throughout various islets in Indonesia and challenged to survive among washed-up luggage, scattered resources and abandoned structures.

… The only way to leave the remote islands is to persevere long enough to be rescued or to quit. As dramatic situations unfold on an expanse of islands in the South Pacific, the series flashes back to the real lives of each participant in documentary fashion, demonstrating haunting parallels to the lives they left behind.”

Here are the contestants’ bios, from ABC:

Angel Alvarenga – Chatsworth, California – Age 20

Angel grew up in Honduras and was raised by his grandmother after his mother immigrated alone to California. At the age of 15, he came to the United States to be closer to his mother. His brother was recently injured as a result of gang violence back in Honduras, leaving Angel feeling trapped in the U.S., trying to find ways to afford to return to his family and help his brother.


Terry Allen – Agoura, California – Age 62

Terry recently moved back home to California to help her aging parents and their growing difficulties with dementia. She’s about to send her youngest daughter off to college and has always seen herself as a caregiver. At this stage in her life, she feels conflicted by the fact that her greatest love is for her family but longs for a sense of independence.


Eric Brown – Glendale, California – Age 31

Eric’s childhood dream to serve in the U.S. Navy became a reality at the age of 19. After being in the service for seven years, Eric struggled with things he had witnessed while stationed in Iraq. He was able to pull himself out of that depression mainly because of his recent marriage to his girlfriend, Elise. Elise has been reluctant to share her wedding day news with her parents since she’s unsure of how they would react to her interracial relationship and fears they will contest her marriage.


Sawyer Brown – Willseyville, New York – Age 30

Sawyer is a devoted husband and father who is a sponsored obstacle-course racing athlete, but living a healthy, happy life hasn’t always been the norm for him. He struggled with drugs and alcohol while growing up in small-town America but was able to pursue a better life through fitness. He believes he can help those with similar issues including his brother Zach who struggles with substance-abuse issues and depression.


Tim Burke – Plant City, Florida – Age 50

Tim is a retired U.S. Army Green Beret who has spent much of his life fightingAmerica’s conflicts on foreign battlefields. Retirement has not been a time of leisure as he often travels undercover around the world in order to rescue young girls from sex-trafficking rings. At times, his focus on issues abroad hascaused him to neglect important issues at home.


Robbie Gibbons – Birmingham, Alabama – Age 42

At 390 pounds, Robbie is a caring husband and father of four who is beginning to feel the weight of his food addiction as the fear of an imminent heart attack looms. He is known for being an upbeat and positive middle school physical education teacher but feels the hypocrisy in not practicing what he preaches. Robbie is currently looking into his hereditary past for answers to find out if his estranged biological father has any addictive personality traits that could help explain his own addiction issues.


Reshanna Hearvy– New York, New York – Age 24

Reshanna’s bubbly personality is meant to distract people from her heartbreaking personal struggles. Her tight-knit family wasevicted from their home without notice forcing them to split up and live in various homeless shelters across the boroughs of New York City. Every week, she looks forward to Sunday since it’s the only time her family is reunited during morning church services. She will not stop until she reaches her goal of living with her family under one roof despite her difficult situation.


Matt Jaskol – Las Vegas, Nevada – Age 32

Matt’s childhood dream was to become a professional race car driver and at the young age of 16, he went from amateur go-kart racing to racing Formula 4 cars around the world. His pursuit to be successful in racing came to screeching halt when the financial market crashed in 2008, which led to putting his racing career on hold. He currently tends to the family woodworking business and takes care of his parents.


Krichelle Kerbow – Haiku, Hawaii – Age 25

Krichelle defines what it means to live off the grid as she resides with her family deep inside the jungles of Hawaii. She enjoys what Hawaii has to offer but desperately wants to branch out on her own to travel around the world. However, she feels as though her loved ones at home could spiral out of control if she were to leave the jungle to follow her dreams.


Richard Rogers – Sequim, Washington – Age 35

Richard has a great amount of knowledge and expertise when it comes to fishing and hunting as a result of growing up in the Pacific Northwest on a salmon hatchery. At the age of 35, he’s finally looking to settle down with his fiancée, Libby. Not only will he learn what it takes to be a good husband but will also take on the responsibility of caring for Libby’s two children as he makes the transition from adult bachelor to a parental figure.


Kenzi Whittington – Nashville, Tennessee – Age 24

Kenzi is an aspiring country music recording artist who moved to Nashville after high school. She’s determined to make it in the music business but the demands of her career have taken their toll on several of her relationships. She often wonders whether or not her dreams of becoming a singer are merely a pipe dream or if they could end up becoming a reality.

Tracee Wnetrzak – Quartz Hill, California – Age 41

Tracee is a self-described super mom who has her hands full as the primary caretaker of five generations living under one roof while she attempts to maintain a job at a local restaurant. Her morning whirlwind routine consists of making sure her mother and grandmother take their medication as she tries to make sure the kids get to school on time. Her memories of growing up in a broken household have taught her invaluable lessons on how to keep a household together.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.


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