Late last year, Netflix thrilled and beguiled subscribers with the release of “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” The interactive film forces viewers to make decisions to proceed through a spellbinding narrative. Some choices are cereal related while others are life or death. Now the streaming giant has announced a follow-up. On April 10, the platform will release “You vs. Wild,” a wilderness survival series starring Bear Grylls.
Before partnering with Netflix, Bear, born Edward Michael Grylls, starred in a series of survival-centered docuseries. The most successful program the former British Special Forces serviceman appeared in was “Man vs. Wild,” which ran for six seasons on Discovery Channel.
At a Los Angeles event announcing the new show, it was explained viewers will follow Grylls as he journeys to exotic locations around the world. As in “Bandersnatch,” viewers will make crucial decisions for the protagonist in each installment. However, Cindy Holland, vice president of original series at Netflix, said “You vs. Wild” won’t be as “dark” as its predecessor.
Presumably, the new interactive series will only allow viewers to accidentally kill Grylls twice at most.
Why Netflix is Pursuing Interactivity
Like most innovations in mass media, Netflix’s experiments in interactivity began with a “Shrek” spinoff. In 2017, the service commissioned DreamWorks to make a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style special for its “The Adventures of Puss in Boots” series. “Puss in Boots: Trapped in an Epic Tale” was successful enough to prompt the company to try something more ambitious.
Next, Netflix approached Charlie Brooker to produce an interactive installment of his award-winning sci-fi series “Black Mirror.” The result was “Bandersnatch,” a gripping psychological thriller with five different endings. The streaming video company has revealed the special was a hit in the United States, Germany, South Africa, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.
“Bandersnatch’s” positive reception convinced Netflix to produce “You vs. Wild” as well as upcoming interactive horror, romance, and adventure programs. Notably, the brand is interested in more than just producing cool content. The firm revealed its interactive media keeps subscribers more engaged than traditional narratives. As such, Netflix has been able to snatch back consumer attention from games like “Fortnite.”
Similarly, Netflix made a deal to host Telltale’s “Minecraft: Story Mode” in 2018 for the same reason.
Where’s ‘Black Mirror’ Season 5?
While the prospect of forcing Bear Grylls to turn to cannibalism is awesome, there is one disappointing aspect to Netflix’s “You vs. Wild” announcement. It wasn’t accompanied by any information about the return of “Black Mirror.”
As anyone who’s seen “Bandersnatch” knows, the film is incredibly complex. In fact, keeping track of its many branching paths was such a massive undertaking, it delayed the production of the show’s fifth season. However, it has been confirmed “Black Mirror’s” producers’ filmed one episode of the new season before the interactive movie was made. Moreover, Netflix has previously announced the show is coming back sometime this year.
Though “Bandersnatch” was incredibly cool, ideally the British sci-fi anthology will avoid interactive episodes in the future to keep production on schedule. The two-year break between seasons has been dismaying. Then again, anyone craving a really soul-crushing tech-dystopia experience could book a vacation to China.