Bear Grylls goes interactive with Netflix’s Bandersnatch-esque You vs. Wild

Netflix's You vs. Wild trailer puts Bear Grylls' fate in your hands

Netflix’s push into live-action interactive storytelling continues on April 10 with You vs. Wild, an eight-episode interactive series starring survival expert and Man vs. Wild host Bear Grylls

As the series’ new trailer demonstrates, You vs. Wild follows the formula established by Grylls’ previous shows. The popular adventurer travels to exotic and dangerous locations all over the world and does his best to survive in the harsh and unforgiving wilderness. This time, however, there’s a twist: Viewers will make some of Grylls’ decisions for him, and then will see how those choices play out via prerecorded footage.

In the trailer, Grylls finds himself in a number of precarious situations, like climbing halfway up a peak only to discover a mountain lion waiting for him at the top. Instead of figuring out how to proceed himself, Grylls turns to the camera and says, “You decide,” forcing viewers to select one of two options. Choose carefully. “If you don’t make the right choices,” Grylls says, “it might not end well for me.”

Despite the life-or-death stakes, don’t expect its various outcomes to be quite as depressing as the ones found in Netflix’s previous’ interactive project, the bleak sci-fi adventure Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. While the Black Mirror spinoff condemned its characters to grim and often deadly fates, You vs. Wild is billed as a family show and won’t be as “dark” as Bandersnatch.

Netflix began experimenting with choose your own adventure-style branching stories in 2017 with interactive episodes of its Puss in Boots and Buddy Thunderstruck animated series. The format didn’t really take off on Netflix, however, until Black Mirror: Bandersnatch debuted in December 2018 and took the internet by storm.

Speaking at a convention in Mumbai, Todd Yellin, Netflix’s vice president of product, told audiences that the company would be “doubling down” on interactive projects in the wake of  Bandersnatch‘s overwhelming popularity. Future projects won’t necessarily be science fiction stories, however. “It could be a wacky comedy,” Yellin said. “It could be a romance.” Apparently, it could be a survivalist reality show, too.

Man vs. Wild debuted on the Discovery Channel in 2006. The series, which ran for seven seasons, stranded Grylls and his crew in remote and hostile environments and forced them to find their way back to civilization. Man vs. Wild transformed Grylls into a household name, and he’s since published a number of books, hosted many other shows, and lent his name to everything from water bottles to smartphone apps.

Updated on March 27, 2019: Added trailer.


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