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'Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls' Review: 'No Guts, No Glory'

August 26th, 2013 11:04pm EDT | Christopher Monigle By: Christopher Monigle

Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls

Get Out Alive was the most positive reality series I've watched in some time. Of course, I watch one other reality television show twice a year. The Soup shows me how awful people treat one other on other reality shows. Grown women beat and berate each other. Men compete against each other for the hand of one girl. People on reality TV will endure any kind of humiliation or embarrassment to get on TV and to become a star. Notoriety, or fame, doesn't happen for a person unless he or she behaves terrible for weeks. Bear's competitive reality series never crossed into crassness, cruelty, vindictiveness; no, Get Out Alive rewarded positivity, strength of mind, and it offered a chance for renewal, growth, and a deep bond between people that happens far too rarely.

I compared Bear to Prospero in my first review of the series. The Tempest challenges the hearts and minds of the characters. Prospero brings the lot to his isle for revenge, but he learns profound forgiveness. Bear's like a Prospero had Shakespeare chosen to set The Tempest as a comedy. Shakespeare's comedies always end in a rebirth, forgiveness, renewal. Characters take to the forest for cleansing and healing. Get Out Alive didn't end with actual dancing, but the spirits of the final six probably were dancing. Bear looked moved during the final elimination as he recounted the journeys of the remaining team and charted their growth throughout the experience. Tears were shed, hugs were given, and Bear appeared near tears.

The teams didn't try to cut each other down in the final elimination, for they had a special bonding experience in the feast pit where they read letters from home, which reminded me of a certain time in my life. Reflection and renewal were actively happening for the participants. Fittingly, it rained throughout the final journey (the two days were my ideal day weather-wise). The final three teams made it through raging rivers, wet campgrounds, bushwhacking, and got to the rescue site where they got a signal fire burning. Once rescued and returned to base camp, the clouds departed and the sun shone. Blue skies were overhead. I think the Get Out Alive production crew had the best luck. Rainy, miserably weather creates a terrific narrative. The teams made it through a foreboding weather system and got to the bright light of day. Their final journey was like the dark night of the soul. Bear used the phrase 'baptism by fire' early in the episode.

Jeff competed because he needed to prove to himself that he could and that he could become who he was before the accident. Jim came because his son asked him to. Lucky and Louie competed to overcome fears and to get out of their small town. Bear helped each person get what they needed from the journey. The repeated phrase in eliminations was, 'The wild is revealing,' which has double-meaning. It is revealing in the best and worst ways. It is renewing. Any journey is renewing. I drove up the coast of California two weeks ago and felt renewed. Bear's last words to Chris and Jeff were to continue pushing boundaries and doing what people don't think they could. The hard part happens after an enriching journey when one returns to the routine. David Foster Wallace spoke truly in his Kenyon commencement speech when he spoke about the hard work it takes to live a fulfilling life day-to-day. Living honestly and truly and without fear is the real challenge in the modern world. Get Out Alive's lessons work for the audience too. Bear's shown his audience that anyone can accomplish what the competing teams on Get Out Alive accomplished. What we need is within us.

Bear awarded Louie and Lucky the $500,000 for their unwavering and reliable strength of spirit and positivity. Get Out Alive's editing has been the problem for the entire run. The editor's job was to take all the footage and cut it together for the best narrative, so it's impossible to know the specifics of why they won over Chris and Jeff or Austin and Jim. I recall Lucky's constant support of the other teams, especially in the episode when he offered to eliminate himself. The money part didn't seem to matter as much as everyone's individual experience. I mean, it mattered because it's a capitalistic society and money most definitely matters. I think Thoreau could've found an aspect of Get Out Alive to enjoy, and that's the best compliment I can give the show.

I hope Bear keeps doing what he does. He's a hell of a man.

Other Thoughts:

-Thanks for reading these reviews. Special thanks extend to Mama Donna, who actually commented on one of these reviews, and to the lovely Alicia Berkwitt for her nice compliment. I invite either lady or any one else reading from the show to fill me in on what the final cut left out.

-Jim and Austin were my favorite time. Their father-son bond connected with me.

Photo Credits: © NBCUniversal, Inc


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