I am no fan of reality TV in any form, but there is one show on currently that both intrigues and inspires me. ABC’s Expedition Impossible, by Mark Burnett of Survivor fame, follows a format that while similar to Survivor as far as being an outdoor survival style contest, is set up to highlight teamwork and character rather than the individualistic competition and betrayal of his other shows. In Expedition Impossible, teams of 3 compete with each other but within their own teams they must truly cooperate to succeed, the challenges are more mental and require teamwork, and the teams themselves seem to be comprised of people with more character than the drama queens and kings normally selected for the spectacle. You can even see teams helping each other out when another is in trouble, a sort of oddity in a competition.
The first thing that tipped me off that this show might be worth watching was seeing one of the teams – Team No Limit – has a blind member. Yes, that is right, a completely blind man (with glass eyes) – not even a ‘legally blind’ person with some vision – is competing in a outdoor activity competition. Erik of Team No Limit is an inspiration, able to compete side by side with other fully abled people by following the directions of his team mates and using pure heart. It is worth watching to see how he succeeds alone.
Other teams consist of former pro football players, cops, fishermen, and country boys among others. But there is one other intriguing team, the Gypsies, which is comprised of three young men of a more alternative or liberal nature. I could imagine running into them at some of the bars I frequent. These three skinny guys that have just traveled a lot but seem to lack the physical prowess and outdoor adventure skills of some of the others yet they are always at the top of competition. Throughout they have shown character, camaraderie, and constitution that sets them apart, never more on display then when they gave up their reward for winning a stage. They were to be given the opportunity to talk to their family at home, but having developed a respect for Team No Limits and realizing they could use the emotional boost of talking to their family more they gave up the reward. Few reality TV shows would have selected people with this character over ones that would display and create drama because of their negative traits.
I applaud Mark Burnett for making this type of show over his others, giving us people to cheer on and be proud of rather than revile them and hope for their failure.