If there is one thing I’ve learned from watching expert survivalist Bear Grylls it’s to make sure I’m with Bear Grylls if I’m ever stranded on an island or anywhere for that matter. I have no doubt Bear could find us water and food in the middle of the desert or a taxi in the middle of rush hour on a Friday. The man has skills but on his latest reality show, “The Island,” those skills take a back seat.


Based on a British show of the same name in which he also starred, the series features Bear as a narrator. The action focuses on fourteen men who are left on an island with nothing but a few knives, a medical kit and enough water to last them about 24 hours. The daytime temperature regularly hits 100 degrees. Unlike other reality series, this one makes the men film what happens. Four of them are experienced cameramen.


The show’s point of view is that the American man has lost an essential part of his identity because he is too reliant on modern amenities. Basically, Google and GPS have killed the hunter/gatherer. I would like the show better if it wasn’t so heavy handed with this idea of recapturing a generic notion of manhood because it’s interesting enough just to watch a group of strangers deal with the basic premise of survival. With no challenges that promise rewards of food or supplies, this show makes “Survivor” look like a vacation.


The group has highs and lows within the first few hours. A snake is killed and eaten. Water is found—it’s salt water. Shelter in the shape of a flimsy looking palm canopy appears later but no one thinks to film how it comes to exist because one of the group is already having a meltdown. His name is Taylor and his antics are a reminder that even a story with stakes that are naturally sky high is more entertaining with a villain. Sadly, the island wins this round and Taylor is whisked away by the offshore emergency medical team after suffering from severe dehydration. (Bear advises us that no man is an island). Indeed.


Will the island have its way with more of the 14? I’m guessing yes which makes me wonder what kind of liability waivers these men had to sign. But one problem is sure to be solved. Water equals survival which equals enough footage for six episodes. What’s left is how each man responds to his physical and psychological limits. This is the part that promises to reveal if these men can reclaim their lost manhood. But really, it just shows how they deal with extreme situations. The skills necessary to survive are not “manly”. In fact, women make it to the British version of “The Island” (albeit in season two, on a separate island from the men). I hope this show returns so American women can get there too.


“The Island” is on Mondays at 10 p.m. EDT on NBC.


If there is one thing I’ve learned from watching expert survivalist Bear Grylls it’s to make sure I’m with Bear Grylls if I’m ever stranded on an island or anywhere for that matter. I have no doubt Bear could find us water and food in the middle of the desert or a taxi in the middle of rush hour on a Friday. The man has skills but on his latest reality show, “The Island,” those skills take a back seat.

Based on a British show of the same name in which he also starred, the series features Bear as a narrator. The action focuses on fourteen men who are left on an island with nothing but a few knives, a medical kit and enough water to last them about 24 hours. The daytime temperature regularly hits 100 degrees. Unlike other reality series, this one makes the men film what happens. Four of them are experienced cameramen.

The show’s point of view is that the American man has lost an essential part of his identity because he is too reliant on modern amenities. Basically, Google and GPS have killed the hunter/gatherer. I would like the show better if it wasn’t so heavy handed with this idea of recapturing a generic notion of manhood because it’s interesting enough just to watch a group of strangers deal with the basic premise of survival. With no challenges that promise rewards of food or supplies, this show makes “Survivor” look like a vacation.

The group has highs and lows within the first few hours. A snake is killed and eaten. Water is found—it’s salt water. Shelter in the shape of a flimsy looking palm canopy appears later but no one thinks to film how it comes to exist because one of the group is already having a meltdown. His name is Taylor and his antics are a reminder that even a story with stakes that are naturally sky high is more entertaining with a villain. Sadly, the island wins this round and Taylor is whisked away by the offshore emergency medical team after suffering from severe dehydration. (Bear advises us that no man is an island). Indeed.

Will the island have its way with more of the 14? I’m guessing yes which makes me wonder what kind of liability waivers these men had to sign. But one problem is sure to be solved. Water equals survival which equals enough footage for six episodes. What’s left is how each man responds to his physical and psychological limits. This is the part that promises to reveal if these men can reclaim their lost manhood. But really, it just shows how they deal with extreme situations. The skills necessary to survive are not “manly”. In fact, women make it to the British version of “The Island” (albeit in season two, on a separate island from the men). I hope this show returns so American women can get there too.

“The Island” is on Mondays at 10 p.m. EDT on NBC.