NPR commentator and BBC TV critic Peters casts about the globe in search of hidden lands and gets a whole lot more than he bargained for.
With his career in broadcasting idling away, Peters was desperate for a break. Though it wasn’t exactly what he had in mind, he reluctantly accepted the offer of a reality-TV hosting gig. Thus began his yearlong, whirlwind globetrotting tour of disaster. The theme? Throw the Westerner into far-flung locations, à la Survivor, and let him fend for himself amid the natives. From Cambodia to Dubai to Morocco, Peters stumbled along, braving third-rate hotel rooms and third-world airlines en route to the next exotic locale. For viewers at home, Peters was the lone traveler, charging into a world of risk-laden adventure. But as he points out, with cameramen, field technicians and field producers, “I can't possibly be alone. Yet, in the name of maintaining the illusion and being entertained, they and we pretend I am.” After two seasons on the air, the show was canceled. “The main reason for the cancellation wasn't a secret,” he writes. “It was the viewers. More specifically, there weren't any.” Illustrated by one hilarious descent into madness after another, Peters undermines the idea that there are still areas in the world untouched by Western influence. It seems that everything has already been explored. But most TV viewers are just looking for an escape. “There's no limit to the extent of human gullibility when it comes to believing what they're told,” he writes. “And the more far-fetched or ludicrous an idea is, the more people are likely to buy into it.”
A tongue-in-cheek exploration of the reality behind reality TV.