Discovery Channel's The Colony

At Cracked, every other article is about some kind of apocalypse. Discovery Channel's The Colony is the reality show where people stop being nice, and start getting real- well, as real as a simulated post apocalypse can be.

Just The Facts

  1. The Colony is Discovery Channel's attempt at simulating a post apocalyptic survival experience
  2. A panel of experts were brought in to increase the realism factor, both psychologically and physically
  3. Producers and directors were brought in to lower realism and amplify drama

The REAL Survivor

Discovery Channel's the Colony runs off a premise that everyone dreams about, but nobody really wants to see- the end of civilization as we know it. In a secluded area, participants in the Colony experiment have to scavenge, build, and survive in a hostile environment, only using what they can find or make. That may sound kind of like the reality television show Survivor, but it has some key differences.

  • No games
  • No free food
  • Eliminations are based on simulated death
  • The simulation runs twice as long
  • There are marauders taking your shit and pepper spraying you.
  • There is no prize. Zilch. Nada.

The only thing you win on The Colony is the confidence that you could make it in a broken world.

Survivor: The million dollar prize might sound better, but the three years in jail for tax evasion might ruin it.

How to Make a Post Apocalypse

Using the highly technical, reliable method of watching Mad Max and some Michael Bay movies for spice, then mixing it with the snoretastic science and expertise of sociologists, Homeland Security experts, survivalists, etc, the producers at the Colony were able to get an idea of just what the world of the post apocalypse would look like. They then decided that would be boring and added an army of stuntmen, a few actors, and hand picked seven survivors. The world comes together with just a few simple ingredients:

  • Physical and mental exhaustion
  • Scant resources
  • Evil Wasteland Pricks
  • Barren Wastelands
  • Super heroes


We've all seen how people on Survivor wear down over time- people with volatile personalities or model like good looks are pitted against one another, shriveling as they find themselves struggling to get food in a resource rich tropical paradise and only eating the food they win and what they can find. These poor people only have fishing, animals they hunt, tropical fruits, and the abundance of vegetation around them. As their body fat goes down, the tension rises: you could probably start a fist fight with one well timed case of a buffalo wings showing up.

The Colony ramps this up to the next level- take away the food wins and put them in an urban desert with little to no natural resources; the only food you win might be that you steal from a nearby settlement. But that would only make them hungry- Discovery Channel wanted them insane as well.

Rather than letting contestants start fresh and ready, the Colony experiment started with taking each of the cast members and keeping them isolated, awake, and unfed for 30 hours. Then they gave them a break and some time to adjust... no, wait, they gave them a few minutes to play the post-apocalyptic version of Supermarket Sweep and grab some food and supplies from a wrecked building moments before raiders showed up to claim the rest. From there it's a several block long hike to an isolated locale where they set up to survive.

Mind you, this is all before weeks of toiling labor, raiders, beggars, food rationing, and all the other challenges of this crazy game- you know, when they really put the stress on.

Scant Resources

You never realize just how desolate the city is until the trucks from the countryside farms stop coming in. Soon the power plants go silent. Without food and power, urban area's are like giant concrete tombs, lifeless and dead.

It's hard to say who got the rougher deal when comparing the first and second seasons of the Colony. In the first season, the survivors were put into a concrete jungle with no real vegetation or wildlife to exploit, but they had a highly defensible area- they lost little in the way of resources to thieves. Meanwhile, the second season survivors housing was poorly defended- were mugged almost immediately, stripped of their food, and on the verge of starvation. However, to be fair, there was a nearby bayou with fish and food; unfortunately, they didn't really have the wilderness skill set necessary to make good on it- at first.

A mysterious figure has arrived to save Season 2's collective survivor asses! Who can it be? Stay Tuned!

Still, they make do with what they find- for the most part.

On Bizzarro Colony, trailers are pushed by bikes. Here on Earth, we know that trailers go behind things, because trying to steer with a pair of fixed wheels is stupid and dangerous. Spoiler Alert: This bike is as dangerous as it looks.

Evil Wasteland Pricks

The Colony cast is a handpicked group of people with the kind of skill set that should allow them to make do in a world of limited resources without modern convenience. Scientists, mechanics, doctors, biologists, martial artists- unchecked, they will build everything they need and live off whatever they can find with ease. A good scientific method of determining wasteland encounters would involve using a demographic chart, creating a mixture of varied groups that might happen upon them in this wasteland, using statistics from survival scenarios in real life to get a good idea of the kind of people you might happen across and provoke reasonable reactions- if you're a commie!

Instead, we get these douche bags- believable, but no doubt hand picked by the producers to cause as much drama as possible, including:

The Marauder

It's Sons of Anarchy meets the post-apocalypse! In the future, when everybody is dead, one lone piece of classic Americana will outride it, and that is the biker. Big, hairy, leather, Harley- this is pretty much all you need to know (and all you get to know) on the Colony. It's not as if these bikers ever actually said anything. It's good to know that in the disease wrecked United States, anyone wearing leather on a motorcycle is going to be an evil son of a bitch here to steal your shit.

In the second season, we move away from bikers towards scary good old boys. Everyone wears masks to prevent infection, so it's a little hard to tell who the good guys are from the bad guys, but the new breed has an addition to their arsenal- pepper spray. While the first season cast was not told how physical the stuntmen could get to keep the simulated sense of danger up, the second season cast signed waivers- cast was beaten, pepper sprayed, and in one case, horrifyingly tied up and kidnapped.

The second season outsiders pulled no punches, coming in large swarms and liberally knocking around the colonists.

The Distraction

Aww, poor lady is not only starving and dirty, but preggo and all alone. How did she get here? Who knocked her up? How did she manage to survive waddling her way through hell? Good questions to ask, because�

She's just a distraction to steal your shit. Lesson number two: mercy will only cause you pain in the future- kill everyone you meet outside your tribe if you want to survive.

The Infiltrators

Some people come along to your fortification and open the door right up with their key- surprise, this warehouse once belonged to someone else! What a twist! Are they a responsible, resourceful person, capable of helping out, willing to throw in to make sure they survive?

Nope, they're another d-bag with a chip on their shoulder who is borderline psychotic, there to steal your crap, and generally ensure drama and put another hit on your resources when the producers realize you're surviving a little too well. He picks fights and pretty much acts as if he will do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. His girlfriend? Even worse...

One would assume these two characters had to survive on their way here, which would probably indicate either some extreme ruthlessness or cunning survival capability. Neither of which should lead to the girlfriend wasting ALL the water on a long, long shower.

This is from the final few shows, more than month into the survival scenario. I don't care how dirty you are- if you were out surviving for that many weeks, you learn the value of water or die. Stealing water is one thing, but throwing it down the drain? You must be some kind of nutcase, or some kind of� actor.


Pull the heart strings. When the attacks on the fortress fail, the producers bring in the big emotional guns to attack the heart. When the first colony was riding high on the hog with plentiful food, well thought out defenses, multiple resources, who happens by- a group consisting of only women and children, save a notable exception- a crippled man. Oh yes. Marauding, evil bikers everywhere, but the women, children, and cripple squad limps through the apocalypse unscathed to beg for food at your gates? Those kids must be classic British orphans- you know, the kind that shiv you for your wallet and collect diseases like rats.

Don't let the bowl and droppy eyes fool you- Oliver will fucking cut a bitch.

On the first colony, they spare some food, despite their own needs, to be better people.

On the second colony, they're so inept and starving that anyone begging from them is better off surviving on their own. Besides, it's just a ploy for more thieves (see above).

The moral? Helping others will only ever bite you in the ass, and certainly not garner loyalty, trust, or help rebuild society from the ashes.

Barren Wastelands

Honestly, there is something thought provoking and interesting anytime one sees a wrecked and barren place, especially when paired with the apocalypse. There's just a strange mixture of fear and wonder one can describe only as awe.

Pictures are louder than words, so here goes…

Okay, now realize these last three pics are places from Chalmette, site for taping the Colony Season 2, and part of destroyed New Orleans, 5 years since the disaster. Those crushed buildings were people's homes. Still think mass destruction is cool?

The more jaded you get.

Of course you do! Discovery Channel thrives on explosions and sharks because of viewers like you.

But oddly enough, not on exploding sharks.