‘Survivalists’ host Colin O’Brady helped families facing extreme tests

Rick's Reviews

(KGET) — Production companies are trying to find safe ways to go back to work in the middle of the current pandemic. The efforts to make new episodes of television shows have ranged from having the characters only appear together via an online link or through strict safety precautions on the set.

The process of shooting the new BYUtv series, “Survivalists,” ended up being relatively easy. It started with the teams of contestants being from the same family to shooting the show in the wilds of Idaho. The results of that safe environment can be seen when “Survivalists” debuts at 6 p.m. Oct. 13 on the cable channel.

Series host, extreme adventurer Colin O’Brady, talked about filming the series during a summer where COVID-19 was on everyone’s mind.

“Obviously most production – for good reason – had been shut down inside studios where you have close quarters,” O’Brady says. “One of the unique things about this show is that it all takes place outside.

“It has pods of families who had been locked down together. They were able to stay together. I was able to host the show from a safe distance as well.”

“Survivalists” is a competition series that features two average families who must put away technology and go on on a three-day survival immersion course in the wild to reconnect and repair their relationships. Along with the chance to take home $10,000, they win advantages through challenges, but to be successful, family members must trust each other and be vulnerable.  

O’Brady was able to give some words of outdoor wisdom to the teams because of his adventure-filled background. The Yale University graduate was the first person to complete an unaided solo trek across Antarctica in 2018. He is a 10-time world record holder who is a highly sought after public speaker and a New York Times bestselling author.

Not only was O’Brady able to share with the contestants the knowledge he has gained through all the extreme adventures he has faced but he also was able to work with the production team on setting up the tests the teams would face.

The key was to create tests that would challenge the families but not make them too difficult for the participants. O’Brady was surprised to see how not a single contestant balked at any of the challenges thrown their way.

Along with his background in extreme activities, O’Brady is considered to be one of the foremost experts on mindset. His TED talk, “Change Your Mindset and Achieve Anything”, has been viewed over 2 million times. He says with the “Survivalists” contestants, it came down to a combination of mental and muscle.

“You have to climb mountains and get across lakes where there is some muscle in that. But, I am fond of saying the phrase ‘the most important muscle any of us has is the six inches between our ears.’ It’s how you react to the challenges,” O’Brady says.

One thing he observed during the film was that the lockdown had brought some families closer together and pushed others apart.

“The heightened anxiety and the heightened stress caused by the close quarters of a lockdown can throw any social dynamic into disarray,” O’Brady says. “The experiences of being on the show gave them a chance to set the news aside for a little bit.

“They got to set their cellphones and computers aside for a little bit. It was really powerful to see every family come out with some very valuable life lessons. They definitely ended the show closer together than they probably started it with.”

O’Brady’s certain that because the contestants are everyday people, it will be easy for the viewers to relate to them. The one thing he wants viewers to get out of watching the new series is an interest in going on their own adventure.

If you prefer only to watch other face tests, BYUtv is available in more than 50 million homes in every state of the country on DISH Network, DirecTV and 146 other major cable systems. If you don’t have cable and want to watch the finale, BYUtv streams for free. All you have to do is download the app or go to www.byutv.org. There are no subscriptions, no in-app purchases and no ads. The network is always streaming live, and past and current seasons are all available to binge.

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