Did Utopia producers really think they could go into full detail about a structure that turns chickens into personal farm servants, but just not explain that mustachioed host to us? Or really explain anything at all, including why there’s so much available alcohol in this new world, and how exactly these maniacs were selected to create a perfect society?
I guess they did. Utopia is kind of bold in that way—this is their world, we’re just watching it. I can sit around thinking I’d put on my leadership pants straight away if put in the position to “create a society from scratch,” but once the plumbing situation fully set in, I’d probably tip the bourbon bottle a little extra, too. In addition to television’s most mysterious narrator, Fox’s newest social experiment is a touch vague regarding the supplies our new world-builders are working with and pretty heavy-handed with the implication that religious preference boils down to “Bible, yes!” or “Bible, no way!” Oh, also, they’ve trapped a pregnant woman in a gated community with 14 weirdos and are now funneling unmarked wine down their throats. Welcome to Utopia, viewer discretion is advised.
Fox will imply otherwise, but Utopia isn’t exactly the first televised social experiment of its kind in the U.S. (though it is the first to be nearly live); there was The Colony on Discovery that simulated a post-apocalyptic world; and let us never forget Kid Nation, where unsupervised children occasionally drank bleach. Compared to tonight’s cast, those kids made building a utopia look like—dare I say it—child’s play. But ultimately, the success of Utopia doesn’t depend on these 14 people effectively creating a harmonious environment… it depends on how many million people watch them fling dead chicken parts at each other. And tonight, I think many viewers had a similar reaction: We couldn’t look away, even if we wanted to. These people are simply terrible at stuff, mostly of the talking and not threatening each other’s lives variety.
The application process for Utopia seems to have consisted of two questions: “How respectful are you of others’ personal space?” and “On a scale of 1 – 10, how volatile is your sexual aggression after drinking production-provided whiskey?” Fox then selected all the “NOT VERYs” and “upwards of 11s” and herded them inside the Utopia gates.
In tonight’s premiere, Utopia sees its core “14 founding mothers and fathers” arrive, where they assemble in the provided barn structure to find out what they’ve gotten themselves into for presumably the next 365 days. A fake hologram rises out of the table while some poor P.A. has to shine a green flashlight on everyone’s faces as they nod with varying emotion to the new information—that’s a “no” nod to the idea of free love from Pastor Jonathan, a “hell yes” nod to the $5,000 budget for supplies from Handyman Red, and laughs all around to the necessity of toilets. The audience is given a few more details from our local Rocky and Bullwinkle villain/host, who has accessorized his face with a handlebar mustache, an earring, a trilby hat, and has somehow given the illusion of wearing a monocle, but is really just wearing regular glasses.
Utopia will not tell you who he is, but I will—he’s Dan Piraro, the cartoonist behind the Bizarro comics. Dan. What on
Earth Utopia are you doing here? Other than introducing us to our 14 new worst enemies…
NEXT: I hope Nikki the Yoga Doctor is prepared to deliver Amanda the Pregnant Woman’s baby…