The latest iteration of reality programming is debuting this fall on FOX in the form of “Utopia,” which will follow a diverse group of adults as they enter a compound in Southern California and form their own society. The cast members will have agreed to leave their lives behind for a year to take part in this social experiment that puts its contestants into an “ant farm” where viewers will see that “from the seeds of conflict grow the flowers of cooperation,” as executive producer Conrad Green tells the 2014 summer TCA press tour audience.
“The whole point of this is it’s not a game show, it’s not a competition, there’s not a prize. … We’re hoping to see something unique play out, people from different backgrounds come together and work out their differences,” says Green. “We’re putting people in a huge sandbox and standing back. The thing that’s fascinating for us as producers, and slightly unnerving, is we’re not controlling this whole process. … There aren’t going to be stunts and games, this is life. It’s a script these guys are going to be writing.”
The idea isn’t a survival show, however. While the surroundings will be primitive, it won’t be about hardships and foraging for grubs. FOX’s executive vice president of alternative entertainment SImon Andreae says, “They’ll have a set sum of money. … While they can’t leave the compound, people can come on the compound. They can do business with the outside world.”
“This is a show about societies, about being viable, about how you construct a society,” adds Green.
In constructing the society, FOX looks to cast a varied group, as was demonstrated by the “potential pioneers” featured on the TCA panel. Self-described leftist, liberal Mother Earth goddess lesbian Emma was sitting next to conservative, Christian, right-wing Jeremy, but they say that while they would never encounter each other in their normal lives, they are willing to come together in “Utopia” to make their society work. Jeremy says he’s all about preaching Jesus’ message of love and that “the only color I don’t like is a**holes.”
Viewers will also have a level of access to the “Utopia” cast that is similar to what “Big Brother” viewers have — the show will air twice a week on FOX, but there will also be 24/7 live streams available.
“24 hours a day, 7 days a week you’ll be able to watch streams of the action going on in the utopia,” says Green. “You’ll be able to see what’s really happening live. We’ll also be putting clips up online of events, if you didn’t catch them live.”
“Utopia” premieres Sunday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX. Watch the trailer below.