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TV Review: Livin’ For the Apocalypse

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Discovery’s Livin’ For the Apocalypse set to air on Sunday, August 28th at ten gives the viewer an intensive look at four couples who are spending their lives making physical preparations—food and water, arms, shelter– for an Armageddon they are certain is coming. It may be a natural disaster. It may be a foreign invasion. It may be an economic collapse. It will definitely be the end of the world as we know it. It may even be the end of the world altogether. Wait. . . .Hold that last one: if that happens, there probably isn’t much of a need for the kinds of preparation these people are engaged in. On the other hand, if Cormac McCarthy got it right in The Road, these four couples and perhaps their loved ones, these four couples will be ready.

The show begins with a nominally reasonable looking couple who have raised what seem to be seven lovely grown children. They seem like two fairly normal people until they begin to talk and tale the camera on a guided tour through their preparations for the calamity they are sure is coming. Rooms filled with canned goods, dried food and other necessities, a root cellar that can serve as a hurricane or even a bomb shelter at home and another fully equipped shelter in the building that houses the wife’s business. If necessary they also have a well stocked mountain retreat from which the man of the house tells us he can hold off an army of invaders with his private arsenal. In many respects this couple, a couple their own children seem to think have gone off the deep end, this couple is the most normal of the people on the show. Their fears have at least some justification as they describe a tornado that just missed their house. Besides they have also managed to parley their apocalyptic fear into what seems to be a budding business opportunity.

Next there is a gun toting chiropractor who calls himself the Survival Doc and his wife. This is a man who hordes silver, raises bunnies for meat to supplement his obligatory cache of supplies, studies martial arts and hosts his own internet show advising others of the survivalist credo: “One is none; two is one.” Oh, and sometimes he dresses up like the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. A very nice looking young couple with two young children comes next. They are raising tilapia and vegetables in their swimming pool and composting to grow grubs to feed their chickens. Not only that, but they are teaching their children to get used to full body protective gear including gas masks through a kind of play activity. For the grand finale, we are introduced to an older woman and her transgendered house mate who raise guinea pigs to sell as pets and for food when the time comes. Their house is so stuffed with supplies they have begun keeping things in the bathroom. They even have some home canned beef heart for the rainy day to come.

The documentary takes no specific editorial point of view. There is no commentary by outsiders or experts about what is shown. The subjects are given the floor. They show the viewers what they want them to see and they explain their ideas at length. Although it would appear these people are deadly serious about what they fear and what needs to be done, it is hard for the viewer to take them seriously. The more you see, the more you hear—the more you are convinced that these people have problems. On the other hand you have to remember that old fable about the ant and the grasshopper; come the day of reckoning they may well be standing there telling us cynics: “I told you so.”

But then there are those Mayan prophecies about 2012.

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About Jack Goodstein

  • Dan

    The lids on those jars were not sealed! They only had the top part on. What’s up with that?

  • Marcus

    i admire the 3rd couple, the mcclungs (i think that was their name). the setup they have is extraordinary. they have waste-composting grubs that become food for their egg-laying chickens, whose waste is used to feed algae that is eaten by fish.

    they also were actively working with members of their community to improve their setup in a way that suggests cooperation with everyone to maintain a communal environment in the event of a catastrophe. their emphasis on self-sustainable living(as opposed to mindless hording of food and supplies) could, and should, be incorporated into everyday living in a greener society.

    the “craziest” thing they did was a “game” with their young children to put on survival masks and suits quickly. everything else seemed to me to just be forward-thinking living with an emphasis on efficiency, self-sustained growth, and knowledge as an asset in itself.

    the last couple was the only one that i don’t think would have much of a chance, simply because they lack any real survival sense or practical knowledge. but they aren’t hurting anybody and they seem happy, so more power to them (just PLEASE do NOT eat any of that canned meat).

  • LS

    I can agree with Emily here though I see the great benefit in preparing for the worst. Such things must be taken in moderation however. Some of them seemed to be led too much by fear, I notice, and that is never good. The third family have it done the best imo. Everyone should realize that the economy WILL crash, this is a fact acknowledged by many educated people. There WILL be chaos ahead of us as well. Much chaos and much deceit… I suggest all to research the New World Order but with that knowledge do not be guided by fear. Sow your hearts to Christ as all of this has been prophetical.

    Yes, some of you will roll your eyes at Mr.Zealous here. Through years of reasearching the NWO conspiracies though I have been led to the faith, myself being a staunch LaVeyan Satanist (Atheist/humanist) before knowing what I now know.

    I advise ALL to start learning the skills required to survive on our own. We have been groomed to become reliant on our technology and the services provided by the government and when the shit hits the fan many will be left vulnerable, and in such states one may take on ”solutions” they previously would have not. This is called Order Through Chaos tactic and has been deployed for thousands of years by the powers that be.

    But hey, I’m just crazy to many who read this, and I’ll remain so for as long as you, the reader, wish to stay ignorant of the very factual and provable darkness going on under our noses and behind the scenes. While I may not agree with all the methods and specific beliefs these people exampled in this show, I applaud them for at least acknowledging the reality that our fantasy reality that has been painted for us in turn spawning a culture of weak, ignorant, indulgent, and apathetic people will NOT last forever, and whether they know this is by design (Which it is) or just a random possibility, they’ve taken the first steps to reclaiming what it means to be a human (To some extents).

  • Emily

    The first couple seemed relatively normal, but at some points this show just felt like an exploitation of the mentally ill, particularly the woman who expressed that if she had to kill someone in self-defense she would have to eat him or her as well. What’s next, “Talkin’ with Demons” with schizophrenics? It seems almost mocking to film some of these people and to indulge their paranoia (several treated the apocalypse as an imminent, inevitable event). I understand stockpiling some extra food and water in the event of a natural disaster, but the people in this show seemed to define their entire existence around preparing for disaster. What sort of life are you leading when everything you do is designed for avoiding death once humanity is gone?

  • Gidget Rose

    I fail to see why the views would think all of us who store up foods and supplies have problems. Perhaps those of you who have plenty of money in life have no issues. But we live on a very small fixed income. As the gas and food prices rise we are already feeling the hardship of buying food for the month. If something happens those of you who only have three days worth of food you will be in trouble as stores will sell out to nothing in a matter of hours! You don’t have to store up any food or water but then when you are in need don’t expect to steal it from us! Gidget Rose