Raw humanity, not contrived ‘reality,’ displayed in Biography Channel’s show I Survived…

Aug 3rd, 2009 | By | Category: Reviews, TV Reviews

by Mike Courson

In a world of fake reality television, the truth is still easy to find. With has-been and no-brain celebrities taking up most of the spots, Biography Channel’s I Survived…, with its real people and candor, leads the way of compelling reality television.

Like any good story, I Survived… does not mess around with complicated gimmicks. The show is mostly comprised of just the survivor, set against a black background, retelling his or her story. There is the occasional vague piece of scenery to help establish the setting, and the stories are set up using plain white narrative text, but mostly the show is an hour of raw humanity.

The stories are incredible, topped only by the survivors themselves. There is the woman who, while driving down the highway, was shot by a stranger. After watching the man shoot and kill her younger cousin, the woman gets the man to believe he actually helped her from the shooter and gets him to call an ambulance.

There is the elderly couple, attacked my a mountain lion while out for a walk. While the cat has the man’s head in its jaws, he pokes at its eyes and she beats it with large branches. Despite losing a large piece of scalp, the man survives.

There are the two young men who get lost at sea without food or water for seven days. After contemplating eating their own fingers and using a fishing tool to carve farewells into the boat, the boys are rescued.

Those are just a few of the stories. The program, with originals airing each Sunday, usually features some kind of accident and some form of crime. The accidents would be boring if not for the extreme conditions endured by the survivors. The crimes offer both the best and the worst sides of humanity.

Unlike many so-called reality shows that feature washed-up celebrities, or regular people trying to become washed-up celebrities, in scripted dramas that in no way model reality, I Survived… is as real as it gets. These are normal people that never asked for trouble but, once it found them, managed to get away and share their stories.

Watch it for inspiration, but beware: in the real world, not everyone survives. Several stories involve the deaths of those less fortunate than the storyteller.

I Survived… is a unique kind of show in that people do die, and details are not held back for the sake of the viewer. It also sets itself apart from other reality shows for another reason: it’s actually worth watching.

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