Utopia (U.S. reality TV series)

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Utopia
Genre Reality
Created by John de Mol
Presented by Dan Piraro
Opening theme "Utopia" by Daughtry
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 12
Production
Executive producer(s)
Production company(s) Talpa Media
Release
Original channel Fox
Original release September 7 (7-09) – October 31, 2014 (2014-10-31)
External links
utopiatv.com (offline)

Utopia is a reality series that premiered on Fox on September 7, 2014.[1][2] Based on the Dutch version of the series and created by John de Mol, the series follows a group of people who attempt to maintain a society in a remote area.[3] Conrad Green was its executive producer.[4] Originally scheduled for two nights per week, Tuesday and Friday, on October 2, 2014, Fox announced that Utopia was pulled from Tuesday nights, and would air only on Friday nights.[5] On November 2, 2014, the show was cancelled.[6] It is estimated that Fox paid $50 million to develop the show.[7]

Premise[edit]

The series follows a cast of 15 men and women who were placed in isolation and filmed twenty-four hours a day for a planned one year. The cast was to create their own society and figure out how to survive. The series was initially shown twice a week, with online streaming 24/7 with 129 hidden and unhidden cameras all over the Utopia compound. The live streams began on August 29, 2014, the day when the 15 pioneers entered Utopia.[3] Over 5,000 people auditioned for the series.[4] Every month, three pioneers were nominated for elimination—to be sent back to their everyday lives. The live-streamers were able to decide which new pioneers got their chance to join the cast.

Cast[edit]

This is the cast of the show at the time of its cancellation:[8][9]

Name Age on entry Occupation Residence Started
Aaron Thomas 26 Chef Oxford, Mississippi August 20
Amanda Scott 30 Behavior specialist Seattle, Washington August 20
Bella Chartrand 45 Real estate entrepreneur Griffin, Georgia August 20
Cal Swangash 39 Farmer Portland, Oregon October 1
Chris Tuorto 25 Chili farmer Cary, North Carolina August 20
Dedeker Winston 26 Belly dancer Los Angeles, California August 20
Ernesto Santana 39 Contractor Oceanside, California September 21
Hex Vanisles 25 Unemployed Detroit, Michigan August 20
Josh Johnston 36 General contractor Salt Lake City, Utah August 20
Kristen Vanstrom[10][11] 24 Entrepreneur Jamestown, New York September 4
Nikki Noce 29 Holistic doctor Brooklyn, New York August 20
Taylor Vaughn 24 Construction Worker Omaha, Nebraska September 11

On September 2, 2014, contestant Hex Vanisles was medically evacuated while filming for the premiere, but returned to the show a few hours later.[12]

Past Utopians[edit]

Source for list:[8][9]

Name Age on entry Occupation Residence Status Started To
Andrea Cox 38 Chef San Diego, California Non-starter[13][14] n/a n/a
Dave Green 31 Unemployed Queens, New York Left Utopia August 20 September 5[15]
Jonathan Lovelace 44 Pastor Church Hill, Tennessee Left - Injury August 20 September 10
Red Vanwinkle 42 Handyman Cecilia, Kentucky Banished August 20 September 30
Rhonda Deniston[16] 48 Entrepreneur/Political Activist Oceanside, California Rejected Candidate September 4 September 9
Katie Cercone[17] 29 Animal Rescuer Sacramento, California Rejected Candidate October 1 October 6
Bri Nguyen 20 Veterinary assistant Westminster, California Left Utopia August 20 October 25[18]
Mike Quinn 33 Attorney Manhattan, New York Left - Family Emergency August 20 October 26
Rob Hospidor 38 Security programmer South Amboy, New Jersey Banished August 20 October 31

Episodes[edit]

Episode
No.
Title Original air date U.S. viewers
(millions)
1 "Series Premiere, Part 1" September 7, 2014 (2014-09-07) 4.63[19]
2 "Series Premiere, Part 2" September 9, 2014 (2014-09-09) 2.48[20]
3 "Series Premiere, Part 3" September 12, 2014 (2014-09-12) 1.99 [21]
4 "Week 2 in Utopia – A" September 16, 2014 (2014-09-16) 2.42[22]
5 "Week 2 in Utopia – B" September 19, 2014 (2014-09-19) 1.52[23]
6 "Week 3 in Utopia – A" September 23, 2014 (2014-09-23) 1.91[24]
7 "Week 3 in Utopia – B" September 26, 2014 (2014-09-26) 1.87[25]
8 "Week 4 in Utopia – A" September 30, 2014 (2014-09-30) 1.99[26]
9 "Week 4 in Utopia – B" October 3, 2014 (2014-10-03) 1.75[27]
10 "Week 5 in Utopia" October 10, 2014 (2014-10-10) 1.86[28]
11 "Week 6 in Utopia" October 17, 2014 (2014-10-17) 1.77[29]
12 "Week 7 & 8 in Utopia" October 31, 2014 (2014-10-31) 1.54[30]

Reception[edit]

Though Utopia's premiere was met with general optimism, the show has ultimately been almost universally panned by critics and viewers alike.

According to review aggregator Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, Utopia received an average score of 38% based on 4 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable" reviews.[31] Utopia holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 33% based on reviews from 6 critics, and a rating average of 4.5 out of 10.[32]

Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sardonically dubbed the show "Fox's Folly" and wrote that it "really ought to be called "Farming, Fighting, and Fornicating – But Mostly Fighting." Reviewing the episode "Season Premiere – Part 2", which aired on September 9, 2014, Owen stated: "Tuesday's episode, which saw a 43 percent ratings decline according to The Programming Insider, featured still more fighting – a failure to order Ramen noodles threatened to become Utopia's assassination-of-Archduke Ferdinand moment – and hints at fornicating between two settlers in a barn loft. Fox executives could have saved substantial production costs and achieved basically the same boring result by filming 14 randy monkeys in a cage containing only 10 bananas."[33]

Brian Lowry of Variety criticized the show's choice of cast: "If 'Utopia' has any legs at all, it will as a cable-style freakshow, not some grand “experiment” in democracy. Indeed, the diverse lineup seems designed to draw from various unscripted staples – a dash of Doomsday Preppers here, a dollop of Duck Dynasty there – and throw them together in the same blender."[34]

Willa Paskin of Slate disparaged Utopia's attempts to condemn the "misbehavior" it "desperately [requires]" from its participants: "Utopia ... strives to frame its mission in a positive light, distancing itself ... from the on-camera misbehavior its producers so desperately require. Through the first two episodes, five of the eight men assembled have violent physical outbursts. The female cast members avoid the trap of being portrayed as catty and vicious; as a result, they are granted no personalities at all, just a penchant for swimming naked ... the first night [ends] with one case of alcohol poisoning, another of threatening sexual behavior, and two fights, Piraro sadly opines that so far the group is failing miserably at utopia, as if the producers had been hoping for a dull, conflict-free Eden."[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Utopia". Fox. 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ "FOX Announces Fall Premiere Dates for the 2014-2015 Season; 'Red Band Society' Launches Early, 'Sleepy Hollow' & 'Gotham' on September 22". TV by the Numbers. July 10, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Utopia TV Show: Bold New Reality Series Premieres on Fox". Small Screen Scoop. August 12, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b de Moraes, Lisa (July 20, 2014). "UTCA: Nearly 5,000 Audition To Live For A Year In Fox’s 'Utopia'". Deadline. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  5. ^ Raftery, Liz. "Fox Pulls Utopia from Tuesday Nights". TVGuide.com. TV Guide. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Hibberd, James (2 November 2014). "Utopia canceled by Fox". Entertainment Weekly. Time, Inc. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  7. ^ http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-11-03/fox-cancels-utopia-reality-tvs-50-million-bust
  8. ^ a b Raftery, Liz (August 20, 2014). "Meet the Cast of Fox's Reality Experiment Utopia". TV Guide. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Utopia on FOX - Utopians!". UtopiaTV.com. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ https://www.facebook.com/kristennvanstrom
  11. ^ "Utopian Detail: Kristen". UtopiaTV.com. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  12. ^ "'Utopia' Contestant Hospitalized -- Suffers Medical Emergency In Brave New World". TMZ. September 2, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  13. ^ Hibberd, James (September 5, 2014). "Fox's 'Utopia' cast already naked, weird -- and drawing 1 million views". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Day 1 - And Then There Were 14". UtopiaTV.com. August 29, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Utopian Detail: Dave". UtopiaTV.com. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Utopian Detail: Rhonda". UtopiaTV.com. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Utopian Detail: Cal". UtopiaTV.com. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Utopian Detail: Bri". UtopiaTV.com. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  19. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (September 9, 2014). "Sunday Final Ratings: 'Big Brother', 'Wipeout', 'Utopia' & 'The ABC's of Schoolhouse Rock' Adjusted Up + Final 'Sunday Night Football' Numbers". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  20. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (September 10, 2014). "Tuesday Final Ratings: 'Extreme Weight Loss' Adjusted Up + Final Ratings for 'Utopia', 'Hotel Hell' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  21. ^ Bibel, Sara (September 15, 2014). "Friday Final Ratings: '48 Hours' Adjusted Up; 'Dateline' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  22. ^ Bibel, Sara (September 17, 2014). "Tuesday Final Ratings: 'New Girl' & 'Dancing With The Stars' Adjusted Up". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  23. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (September 22, 2014). "Friday Final Ratings: '20/20' Adjusted Up; No Adjustment for 'Utopia', 'Big Brother' or 'Dateline'". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  24. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (September 24, 2014). "Tuesday Final Ratings: 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.', 'Forever', 'The Voice', and 'Dancing With the Stars' Adjusted Up; 'Chicago Fire' & 'Person of Interest' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  25. ^ Bibel, Sara (September 29, 2014). "Friday Final Ratings: 'Shark Tank' Adjusted Up; 'Hawaii Five-0' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  26. ^ Bibel, Sara (October 1, 2014). "Tuesday Final Ratings: 'Selfie', 'Manhattan Love Story', 'The Voice', 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.', 'New Girl' & 'Forever' Adjusted Up; 'Chicago Fire' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved October 1, 2014. 
  27. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (October 6, 2014). "Friday Final Ratings: 'Last Man Standing', 'Shark Tank' & '20/20' Adjusted Up". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  28. ^ Bibel, Sara (October 13, 2014). "Friday Final Ratings: 'Blue Bloods', 'Shark Tank' & 'Dateline' Adjusted Up; 'Hawaii Five-0' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  29. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (October 20, 2014). "Friday Final Ratings: No Adjustment for 'Last Man Standing', 'Cristela' or 'The Amazing Race'". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  30. ^ Bibel, Sara (November 3, 2014). "Friday Final Ratings: No Adjustments to 'Grimm', 'Constantine', 'Hawaii Five-0' or 'Shark Tank'". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Utopia (2014) – Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Utopia: Season 1 (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  33. ^ Owen, Rob (September 11, 2014). "Fox's folly: 'Utopia'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  34. ^ Lowry, Brian (September 7, 2014). "TV Review: 'Utopia'". Variety. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  35. ^ Paskin, Willa (September 11, 2014). "These People Will Not Create a Perfect Society". Slate. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 

External links[edit]