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15 of us - Utopia (U.S. TV series)
Utopia is a reality series that premiered on Fox on September 7, 2014. Based on the Dutch version of the series and created byJohn de Mol, the series follows a group of people who attempt to maintain a society in a remote area. Conrad Green was its executive producer. 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. On November 2, 2014, the show was cancelled after airing weeks of what was promoted as a year-long project. It is estimated that Fox paid $50 million to develop the show.
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. Over 5,000 people auditioned for the series. 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.
This is the cast of the show at the time of its cancellation:
|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||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.
|Name||Age on entry||Occupation||Residence||Status||Started||To|
|Andrea Cox||38||Chef||San Diego, California||Non-starter||n/a||n/a|
|Dave Green||31||Unemployed||Queens, New York||Left Utopia||August 20||September 5|
|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||48||Entrepreneur/Political Activist||Oceanside, California||Rejected Candidate||September 4||September 9|
|Katie Cercone||29||Animal Rescuer||Sacramento, California||Rejected Candidate||October 1||October 6|
|Bri Nguyen||20||Veterinary assistant||Westminster, California||Left Utopia||August 20||October 25|
|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|
|Title||Original air date||U.S. viewers
|1||"Series Premiere, Part 1"||September 7, 2014||4.63|
|2||"Series Premiere, Part 2"||September 9, 2014||2.48|
|3||"Series Premiere, Part 3"||September 12, 2014||1.99 |
|4||"Week 2 in Utopia – A"||September 16, 2014||2.42|
|5||"Week 2 in Utopia – B"||September 19, 2014||1.52|
|6||"Week 3 in Utopia – A"||September 23, 2014||1.91|
|7||"Week 3 in Utopia – B"||September 26, 2014||1.87|
|8||"Week 4 in Utopia – A"||September 30, 2014||1.99|
|9||"Week 4 in Utopia – B"||October 3, 2014||1.75|
|10||"Week 5 in Utopia"||October 10, 2014||1.86|
|11||"Week 6 in Utopia"||October 17, 2014||1.77|
|12||"Week 7 & 8 in Utopia"||October 31, 2014||1.54|
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. Utopia holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 33% based on reviews from 6 critics, and a rating average of 4.5 out of 10.
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."
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."
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.