This will be a short opinion post about Doomsday Preppers. This is not specific to any one episode, but instead is a generalization of the shows second season thus far.
Doomsday Preppers airs on the National Geographic channel at 9PM on Tuesdays. The show features preppers that are preparing for a specific single event (at least for the show) and displays their various preparations and plans. There is a lot of emphasis placed on firearms and distrust of government as well as a healthy dose of “did that just sound crazy?”.
Most of the people featured on the show have extensive financial resources and quite a few own businesses that are related to the prepping lifestyle. I find it hard to believe that product name dropping wasn’t a major factor in their decision to join the cast for some of these folks.
The concept of the show is for the prepper to outline his or her worst case scenario and then explain how their own extensive planning and prepping will help them to survive and then thrive after the event occurs. Many of the events are regional in nature (volcano, earthquake, tsunami) but a few are national or even international (social collapse, economic collapse, EMP, Solar Flare). As the show is called “Doomsday” Preppers I guess it is not feasible to showcase preps for more likely events such as blizzards, tornadoes, house fires, etc.
I have to believe that National Geographic is hand picking these people based on their perceived ability to look crazy on camera. Ratings are, as we all know, the name of the game on television. Although there have been several preppers that have had solid plans and seemed rather reality based (Josh Wander and Bryan Smith are good examples) the vast majority of these preppers have ill conceived plans, inadequate training and dangerous tendencies. Through creative editing National Geographic has portrayed all of the preppers appearing on the show as fringe society individuals bordering on paranoid extremism.
When you sit down to watch the show you are seeing tape that was recorded over the course of just a few very long days that have covered tons of information and interviews. This tape is sliced and diced into final product without the approval of the preppers appearing on the show, as far as I am aware. The end result is that National Geographic gets to show you everything THEY want you to see and tell you everything THEY want you to hear. Most of the information that Nat Geo thinks is important (based on episodic history) centers around a few key questions:
1) How much money have they spent?
2) How much food and water do they have?
3) How many guns do they have?
4) How much ammo do they have?
Being able to throw out relatively large numbers for these questions makes the show more sensational. If Bob Smith spends $800 per year on his prepping that is not nearly as interesting as Bill Jones spending $30,000 per year and building an underground bunker! If Bob has 100 rounds of ammo for his 9mm pistol that isn’t nearly as sensational as Bill having over 100,000 rounds of ammo for his more than 30 weapons! It’s an added bonus if the prepper is also dabbling in explosives, moonshining or weapons manufacturing.
Inevitably on each show you will see firearms being fired. 99% of the time you will see unsafe usage, dangerous methodology and horrifyingly bad handling of these weapons. I have witnessed “training exercises” done with live weapons (unloaded and safed but still not recommended) pointed at each other. I have seen people walking around in front of and behind others with live weapons and changing positions with live weapons all the while fingers are on triggers, safeties are off and proper eye and ear protection is not present. In several episodes there are mock attacks and hostage situations, all done with real weapons, although unloaded. Heck, in the first season we even had a man blow half his thumb off due to a “weapon malfunction”…(putting your freaking thumb over the end of the barrel is not a “weapon malfunction”, it is a BRAIN malfunction).
Another major theme lately is eating worms, bugs and small rodents. This has been shown in multiple episodes. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but this is not prepping. Having to scavenge bugs and worms and small rodents is anti-prepping. No one that prepares for emergency and disaster events packs away buckets of dead rodents and I have yet to see anyone raising field mice for food. I do see people raising worms and yes, you can eat them in a pinch. However, if you’re prepping and your preferred source of protein is worms, you aren’t prepping very well.
The problem with these methods of food gathering is that they require more energy find and process the creature than they provide in nutrition. In the case of worms and bugs you can readily find them but the amount you would need to eat to sustain yourself is relatively high, making this solution non-viable for long term survival. You are better off, in my opinion, studying your regional plants to know which are edible instead.
The worst part of the show is the editing. Even if the person starring in the show has good ideas, and sound reasons for prepping the producers have apparently decided they would rather go for the shock value of showing the “crazy prepper” rather than have a show that is educational and proper.
The answer is that NatGeo or another network should introduce a show about real preppers and homesteaders that have decided to live this way not because of a paranoid delusion or anti-social personality, but instead because of the values and benefits of living a self-sustained and self-reliant existence. Show the positive value of hard work and discipline on children and families. Show the audience that you don’t need to watch TV for 8 hours a day or play video games until your eyes go crossed. Teach the audience about gardening, canning, root cellars, caring for animals and planting trees. In short, show something that might actually have a positive net affect on the world instead of something that’s just going to get ratings and twitter hashtags.
Oh well, that’s my $0.02