Since Bear Grylls’ new live-action interactive survivalist series You vs. Wild premiered on Netflix, fans have been asking whether the show is real or fake.
In You vs. Wild, Bear Grylls goes to different remote locations to face dangerous challenges in rugged terrains and harsh weather. While exploring the various extreme environments, viewers are allowed to make decisions about Grylls’ next course of action from the comfort of their homes.
Each episode is a multi-branching interactive adventure which means that, at different stages of the adventure, you can select one of two alternative courses of actions and the decision you make determines what happens next.
So, it is left to you to determine whether Grylls eats yucky raw bird’s egg or prickly gorse to replenish his energy. You can decide whether he shelters to stay warm or keeps on running. In other situations, it is up to you to choose whether Grylls skydives or lands at his destination in a helicopter.
But if, after a series of bad decision-making, you lead Grylls into a situation where he is unable to proceed further, he tells you that the adventure must end and explains why.
The interactive system then reverts to the beginning of the segment so that you can make a new set of decisions for Grylls that could either lead to successful completion of the mission or another dead end situation. Regardless of the end situation, your decisions cannot lead to Grylls’ death.
Grylls actually had to perform those feats in the adventure series
Making the series clearly involved real-life situations and Grylls was obviously in those extreme locations. The outcomes of the decisions were also based on what could have happened in real life.
During a recent interview with Vulture, Rob Buchta, who was involved in the series, revealed that although the storytelling involved controlled and scripted scenarios, Bear actually had to perform most of the physical feats shown in the adventure series, such as swimming across a river, trying to balance on a log to get across a river, climbing rocks, and skydiving into remote scorching desert locations.
Bear, according to Buchta, would suggest two possible ways to complete a difficult task, such as crossing a river, and then perform both options even when he knew that he could not successfully perform one of the options.
When he was able to successfully complete a task through one option, the adventure moved on. When he was unable to complete a task using one of two options, the option would be a dead end for the viewer who chose it.
But there were times when he was able to successfully perform both options.
Grylls had a standby team of medical experts and safety professionals
Buchta admitted that many of the situations in which Grylls found himself while trying to perform a task were dangerous. Because Bear is a tough and experienced survivalist, he is able to make it through most of the dangerous situations on his own.
However, the production crew has a standby team consisting of other expert survivalists, safety professionals and medics who intervene when things appear about to get out of hand.
Regarding segments that tell a particular story, such as where he has to rescue a stranded dog, Buchta explained that the dog was not actually stranded and that it was not out in the cold for 36 hours as the story suggested.
However, the production crew set things up so that Bear did not know exactly where the dog was, so he had to actually search for it.
Bear really did eat those raw bird eggs and bad mushroom
Buchta confirmed that Bear really did eat raw eggs which could make someone sick. Although Bear sometimes pretended that he was sick for the purpose of the shoot, Buchta revealed that “poor Bear has gotten sick on our shoots… many times.”
“We always try not to let it [i.e. falling sick] happen, but trying to control Bear is like trying to ride a bull,” he said. “I try to keep him within the guardrails as best I can. He will improvise, he will go off script, and sometimes it backfires on him. We’ve had to shut down production because of it. He’s been sick and vomiting from stuff he’s done to demonstrate survival things.”
You vs. Wild is streaming on Netflix.