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Survivor might be the most popular wilderness-based reality television show in America, but its name overstates the importance of survival. History Channel’s Alone, however, offers similar cash incentives without a strategy and social manipulation. In the era of COVID-19, it is among the most readily-prepared series both based on safety and relatability. 

What is Alone?

Alone is a show more in vein with Bear Gryll’s many projects or Naked and Afraid than Survivor. Yes, it has a similar cash incentive and a focus on man’s ability to survive the elements, but it does so in a more natural way. If somebody were stranded on a desert island, after all, they wouldn’t likely have tribemates and camera crew with them. Alone takes this into account to make the most accurate survival format in television history. 

Contestants on the program are competing with time more than they are competing with others. The original seasons awarded $500,000 to the person who lasted in the wilderness the longest out of 10 contestants, all who claim to be survival experts. In the latest seasons, the goal is to last 100 days while surviving the elements and acting as one’s camera crew. While many programs of this nature pretend this is the case, however, Alone does it. Not for the average person like Survivor, Alone requires some expertise when it comes to outdoor living

People cannot rely on others for food, shelter, and in many cases, supplies. They are dropped off in a rural place with Arctic-like temperatures and forced to think right away — no immunity, no challenges, no rewards. It is a series that requires mental fortitude, on-the-dime thinking, and a whole lot of willpower. Thus far, nobody has lasted the entire 100 days. If they did, they’d win the cash prize, which has since been increased to one million dollars.

It’s a show that forces people to compete against the ultimate opponents — mother nature and themselves. As such, it can be more of a life-altering experience than shows that are more competitive. 

Winning ‘Alone’ is about overcoming isolation and getting food 


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45-year-old electrician Larry Roberts lasted 64 days on the second season of the series, which took place on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Roberts spilled the dirt on what it’s like while filming the show. From his strategy to make resources stretch to the mental games he has to play against himself, Roberts toughed it out for over two months before calling it quits. 

According to Roberts’ interview with Outdoor News, the time alone combined with the personal experience made for an opportunity to last him many years. 

It was a phenomenal experience, something that most people will never be able to experience. It’s one thing to be able to practice your skills, but I likened it to an athlete that only gets to practice. … How do you know if your skills are really worth the time and effort that you put into them? Being able to be out in the woods, using your skills, not just practicing but utilizing them, relying on the skills, was an amazing experience. There’s a lot of survival instructors. I would say 95 percent of them never have to experience the things that we experienced, especially the folks that lasted a long time. (Per Outdoor News)

The perfect COVID show

Alone fits in the current times for many reasons. While people in America aren’t forced to reckon with the elements that Alone’s contestants do, their time in isolation helps them connect with the contestants. It might be hard to stay inside while everything is happening, but the show lets audiences see that it could always worsen. 

On top of that, the series requires minimal adjustments to survive the pandemic. Contestants are socially distanced by nature, given a GPS and a radio for nightly check-ins to avoid catastrophe but never directly contact other people. If Survivor was the series of the turn of the 21st century, Alone is the perfect answer to the mess of 2020.