10 Things Learned on the Set of Utopia - Fox's Faux-Libertarian, Real-Life Truman Show

By Luke Y. Thompson in Daily Lists, TV
Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 7:00 am

6. If They Suffer, It's Their Own Stupid Fault.


Kroll: "The beauty of this is that any misery is going to be self-induced, because they have the ability to - they're going to create their own economy, and if they're not eating well because they're not raising enough money, then that's their own fault. That's been made very clear to the participants."

And herein lies the reason this takes place in California, rather than a more lawless nation where hunting licenses don't apply. "Part of it," says Bohnert, "was also having them build businesses and work out of Utopia, so you want to be in the US for that portion of the show. The businesses that they create will interact with the outside world. They can't leave the compound, but they will be doing business with the outside world, so people might be coming to visit them on a daily/weekly basis." They'll be given a small sum of money to start with, and a strictly monitored phone line and Internet (once they get electricity) that will only be able to access business-related numbers and sites.

24-7 observers in the control room will have a kill switch and are eager to use it.

7. Down in the Dumps.


This is the only plumbing they start with - the "poop bench." It's based on Kroll's memories of growing up on a hippie commune, where they had the same thing. He tells us they won't be going out of their way to show people on the toilet, but that some go out of their way to make it visible.

8. In the First Week of Testing, One Participant Already Went Nuts.


Prior to the main cast showing up, all the equipment was tested with a group of runners-up, and it didn't take long for one to get bloodlust...for the chickens. Insisting on trying to carve one of them up, rather than the more pragmatic course of keeping it around to lay eggs, she was forced to leave, before even a week was up.

California laws are an issue here, too - if everyone votes to slaughter the cows or chickens on the property, they have to be sent away to a licensed slaughterhouse to do it.

9. I'm Better With a Bow Than That One Time at Renn Faire.


My aim was terrible, but that's okay - you're supposed to focus on technique first, and once that's done, worry about the aim.

Fishing, on the other hand - the instructor bailed on me in the middle, so even though I was at the world's easiest artificial lake loaded with catfish, my survivalist skills sucked there.


10. Talk About Shining Me on.


We were offered corn liquor before the tour began, so anything that followed could possibly have been a moonshine-induced hallucination. I don't think so, though.

Utopia premieres Sunday on Fox. Check your local listings for exact time and channel.

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