My Utopia POV

This is MY UTOPIA!

Big Brother Screen Caps and Commentary


Utopia Screen Caps and Commentary



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Sunday, 2 November 2014

We all saw it coming. The death of Utopia has been being predicted practically since it started. The ratings were terrible, the critics weren't showing up, and it was different. I had a couple of concerns that I never voiced for fear of jinxing things. First the completeness of the livefeeds. They really were nearly 24x7 which is fantastic. However, it gave little reason to tune into the show. There was nothing new to learn, no comps to watch, no DRs to hear. Really the only thing to see was the edit - which either would be accurate, or not. If it was accurate, that's nice, but boring. And if it wasn't we'd just complain. Still most loyal livefeeders did try to watch the show, or at least DVR it, understanding that TV ratings drive everything.

The second problem was Fox. I have had a bad taste in my mouth from a number of shows that Fox has unceremoniously canceled because they weren't pulling high ratings. They are often the more intellectual, thought-provoking shows that by definition don't appeal to the masses. Fox also has a history of axing shows in the middle of storylines, leaving the viewers without closure. After being burned several times I have refused to watch any Fox show for almost a decade. Occasionally I'll hear good things about a particular show, but I wait and pick it up in syndication. That way I'm insulated from the cancellation carnage. If Utopia had been just a show, I never would have watched. But the livefeeds won me over and so I gave the network a chance. And they let me down again.

Utopia's cancellation was announced as effective immediately. No more episodes and the feeds were on highlights within minutes of the announcement and black within hours. The last we saw of the pioneers they were hard at work. Having been visited by Mose Gingrich, former Amish (and formerly of another fantastic Jon Kroll production, Amish in the City), who set them on a day of trying the Amish work ethic. The men were building bed frames for everyone, while the women did the laundry and cleaned the house. Sure, Bella was complaining about organic food and toxic soap, and not helping. But in general it was the most productive they've ever been, certainly all together. They've been working on a mission statement, and have had some successes with commerce though Bella's paintings, Josh's crates, and the date auction. Chris had just gotten his glass blowing equipment and the jewelry business was sure to benefit.

Some will say it was too little, too late. But come on, it takes time to build a society. If they'd shown up and been immediately successful there would have been claims that it was all staged, and rightfully so. But they were beginning to move in the right direction. The changes that were made over the last two weeks were likely going to be good both for the society and for the show. But then the big ax of cancellation swung and took it all away.

Ultimately the poor ratings are the reason for the end of Utopia. There's room for debate over what caused the poor ratings. The network didn't promote the show enough, the cast was crazy and not committed, people don't really want to see this kind of a show? All of the above? I can't really say why it didn't work out, but I can say why I loved it. I loved it because it was different, because the cast was crazy, and because it made me think. The premise of Utopia was to build an ideal society. To do that you have to ask yourself, what makes an ideal society? You have to ask questions about values, religion, politics, power, human relationships. I do think about these things, but Utopia made me think more. I asked myself what would I do if I had to live with Bella? I thought about what gives people power, and why do they abuse it? And I learned things. I know more about cows and chickens than any city girl has a right to know. I learned about polyamory, yoga, and meditation. And I learned way more about organic food than I ever cared to know.

I also found new friends on Twitter. We all shared the experience of Utopia, but also little bits of ourselves. As things happened with the Utopians, tweeters shared tiny bits of their own lives too. I was honestly moved by some personal things that tweeters shared more than anything in Utopia. And especially those who were lucky (and brave!) enough to visit Utopia and be part of the on-screen story.

I may well add more thoughts as they come to me over the next few days, but I needed to get some closure. I'm really quite annoyed at Fox for ending this they way they did. They could have easily given the producers a week or two to put together a conclusion and let the Utopians react and reflect on what they did and what they learned. But I don't think that mattered to the network. They were all about the ratings, not about the mission. But for some of us, it was more than just a TV show. And no matter what, we'll always have Utopia....

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