Humans – we’re a funny bunch. We get embarrassed easily, with deep tinges of red creeping up from our necks in awkward situations. But watching someone else get embarrassed? HECK YES, GIVVUS THE LAUGHS. So it’s no surprise that reality TV is huge.
Though some reality TV shows are… let’s say, a bit less hapless than others. Enter Urban Survivalist, the short-form reality TV show starring Ronny Chieng from Crazy Rich Asians (unwillingly, mind you).
The show follows as a bunch of television producers and crew kidnap Ronny (as you do) and deposit him in the middle of an unknown city in order to watch him scramble to survive in the urban jungle. Except Ronny is happily tippy tapping his phone all over the place thanks to being able to pay with Visa on mobile, soz.
We peeped the eps below so here’s our impression. It goes without saying, but in case you haven’t peeped them yet: SPOILER ALERT.
Drone shots panning over city skylines, brass instruments climbing to a crescendo, commanding voice over artist employing Shatner-esque pauses to increase dramatic effect – yep, if we didn’t know it was a reality TV show before then we sure as heck do now.
Then suddenly we’re in a fancy house – and FYI I would totally be willing to go on a reality TV show if it meant I got to hang out in somewhere nice instead of my dodgy little unit. TWO couches?! The height of luxury. And there sits Ronny, clad in a robe and slippies. As we all wish we were, at all times of the day.
I’m really not sure who I identify with more here – Ronny and his bewildered expression (me at all times) or the crew being so incredibly unprepared and frantic (also me at all times). Cut to Ronny being dropped in Sydney (clearly) with a bucket on his head (weird flex but ok) as the crew narrate the extremity of the situation (mmm not sure about that one).
Kudos to the coffee cart man who did not even blink at the sight of Ronny’s bare chest and robe-clad body. Tapping to purchase a latte and banana bread while partially nude – all normal areas. Totally commonplace. Frankly, the parks are full of them!
Aaaaand close with slow-mo as Ronny attempts to evade the camera crew, slippers a’slippin. Folks, we have a runaway star. Reality TV to a tee.
Okay, the first thing I must criticise Ronny for is the blatant disregard for the robe’s tie. It’s hanging, haphazardly, whipping in the breeze as he strides with reckless abandon. But all is fine coz it looks like he’s about to go shopping anyway – or according to the crew, shoplifting.
Loving the high-speed bongo drumming to amp up the survivalist angle, TBH, but not as much as I’m loving the sales assistant in a yellow floral neckerchief. Those are bold areas, and she went there. And yeah, Ronny looks good in the suit he bought (by tapping his phone to pay with Visa so ha, take that Urban Survivalist crew – fool you twice). But that neckerchief – impressive.
I will say, I would not personally want to get into a battle with Kate – she seems scrappy. I couldn’t take her. The long limbs, the determination in her eyes. Ronny is a stronger human than I to have held onto his phone.
Except both are now in my bad books for wreaking havoc in my dear neckerchief lady’s shop. Throwing down mannequins? Ronny how dare you! She looks horrified and I just want to give her a big hug. I was so distracted by my sympathy for the retail woes of neckerchief lady that I totally missed that Ronny vanished. But apparently so did the crew, so I’m in the clear.
Here we are folks, the culmination of a series that has had us seriously craving banana bread and a soft, soft robe.
If I’m putting on my totally obnoxious amateur film student hat on here (note: never went to film school, definitely obnoxious though), I appreciate the juxtaposition between Ronny’s navy suit and the vibrant, Barbie vom pink of the inflatable flamingo he’s clutching as he appears to sneak, Skyrim character-style, through the shops. Which is not a sentence one ever expects to write while embarking on a career in journalism, but here we are, folks!
Ronny is savage, just FYI – “I just paid for your groceries, I don’t care about your baby’s backstory.” Same. How do babies even have a backstory? They’re babies. They’ve been in the world five minutes. I digress. Witnessing a grown man in a suit sprint with a flamingo is making me exceedingly happy. There’s just something about the squeak as the plastic connects with the fabric.
And he does have a point – don’t go tandem biking with your sister. That is strange. I would not go tandem biking with my brother, though that is largely because he is approximately a foot taller than me and infinitely stronger so I would be left with my legs dangling as he did all the work. Although now that I’ve said that, it could be worse.
I almost feel kind of sad for the producers as they stand on the dock, watching as Ronny speeds further away. They’ve just had to do some serious cardio and it’s all for naught, which is a true nightmare. They don’t even get a second season.
Buuut they did kidnap a human and try to force them into a reality show against their will, so really it’s much of a muchness.
Safe travels, Ronny. You and your flamingo are safe now.