FOX’s “Utopia”: It’s entertainment, not experiment

that's entertainment.001FOX new reality series this fall called Utopia. A large group of people from all walks of life spend a year on a greenfield to see how they build their own community by their own rules.

Clever that producers picked up on popular sentiment: more and more people wonder if new kind of society not plagued by capitalism and government and politics and corporations is possible.

Cynically, one can imagine those controlling the media shrewdly devising this series to discredit real-world initiatives actually making progress towards Utopia.

Then again, other reality shows have made social impact: The Biggest Loser comes to mind…

Whatever your perspective, the fact that Utopia the FOX show is coming may indicate growing support for something better.

That’s cool.

Remember if you choose to watch: this is a perfect set-up for reality TV entertainment. Strangers, carefully selected. Put in an Orwellian fish bowl. Tasked with a wicked problem. No prior opportunity to build relationship between them. No opportunity to move through Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development prior to engaging on the task. Oh, and let’s have them do all that in front of millions of viewers.

See? It’s not so groundbreaking at all. It’s merely reality entertainment. Points to remember:

1. It’s TV not reality. People coming into this environment are purposefully selected for the drama and conflict they will create.

2. Old habits die hard. Carefully selected participants are going to bring deep-seated habits (not “human nature”) learned through immersion in the status quo. Expect selfishness, hardheadedness, a desire to install hierarchical organizational structures and other tenants of status quo cultures.

3. This is entertainment. It is not a real “experiment” although producers claim it is. It says nothing about whether utopia is possible.

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