Doomsday Preppers â Am I Nuts or are You?
National Geographic, 20th March, 9PM
Everyone’s fascinated by the idea of the Apocalypse, but most of us stop at enjoying zombie movies and quietly worrying about nuclear bombs. In ‘Doomsday Preppers â Am I Nuts or are You?’, three different, slightly unhinged Americans have taken this fascination to a whole new level, devoting their lives and thousands of dollars on equipment to help survive various Armageddon scenarios, like nuclear war, economic collapse, or bio-terrorism.
The slightly clumsy title is obvious trying to pose the question â who’s really crazy? Me, and my total reliance on electricity, running water and shopping for food, or them, who will be prepared in case one day we don’t have access to these things? It’s an interesting question, but it’s pretty clear from the start that they’re the crazy ones. Come on, this is Nat Geo â you didn’t really expect the producers to select a bunch of level-headed pragmatists, did you?
Honestly, this programme is really bad. At its core, it’s the usual faux-documentary crap that you expect from channels like this. However, occasional moments of hilarity save it from zero stars. When we first meet ‘Big Al’, a musician from Tennessee who’s building a bomb shelter, he’s in the studio, producing a rock-country jam called ‘What Would You Do?’, in which a fellow prepper sings about societal collapse over bluegrass banjos.
Even better is when Big Al tells the audience about the thousands of gallons of water he’s set aside, clarifying âI am not going to drink my own urine. I’m just not.â? You and me both, Al.
Inbetween making ‘bunker stew’ (a vile-looking concoction of various canned foods boiled together in a pot) and chopping wood, he’s watching footage of nuclear explosions and researching the news, to see if the Russian nuclear attack that he’s convinced is going to happen is getting any closer. If Brass Eye came back tomorrow, they could just broadcast this and no-one would know any different.
Also in a starring role is Jason Beecham, a 15 year old who’s convinced the USA is about to dissolve into anarchy following an economic collapse. Since he has no independent income, most of his survival supplies are ‘borrowed’ from around the house. Him and his buddies go out camping, and almost burn down a derelict building and kill themselves along the way. His mother’s constant eye-rolling at her son’s obession with the Apocalypse is actually quite sweet.
However, it turns sinister when we learn that Jason plans to leave his family behind should the shit hit the fan. Honestly, given Jason’s camouflage camo pants, black shirts and extensive arsenal of weapons (including a baseball bat with nails in it), I’m more concerned about the survival of James’ classmates than the survival of Western Civilisation.
Each prepper is graded by a panel of ‘experts’ on their preparedness, and we get to see what changes they’ve made a few months later. It’s sort of like The X-Factor, but for conspiracy nuts, and it’s as entertaining as that sounds.