‘Outlast’ Review: Insults, Sweat, and Pettiness in Alaska

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Survival shows have been quite an entertainment staple since Survivor debuted more than 20 years ago. Television has come a long way since then, yet the concept of participants fighting against each other to win a monetary prize keeps being as fascinating as ever. It is understandable that these people are going through very tough situations because of money, but also because we like to see other people suffer. These shows allow us to do that. Netflix‘s Outlast is just a new entry in the tradition.

Outlast is a new survivor show that arrives on Netflix on March 10th, and in it, sixteen participants will have to survive the inclement weather of Alaska and its abundant fauna. The sixteen participants will have to be in this environment for at least 45 days, or until just one team of survivors is left standing. The participants have divided themselves into four groups of four people, and the show’s premise tells us that they have to win together. No one person can win this challenge alone.

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Outlast seems like a very straightforward type of survival show, or, more specifically, it is a very traditional American survival show. The challenge of surviving a set amount of time in Alaska seems to be quite vague. There are, of course, the most logical tasks of finding shelter, food, and water, but other than that, the show believes that watching these people argue is enough to keep you watching. I think Outlast will definitely have its audience; these types of shows keep being created for a reason, but it will be hard for Outlast to stand out among the competition.

Not long ago, Netflix released another survival show that has become quite a phenomenon since then. We are talking about Physical 100. The Korean competition became an instant hit weekly, as we saw the participants battling each other in physical tests of strength, endurance, and more. It was exciting, and people gathered every week to see who would move forward and who would prove to be the strongest and most resilient participant. The show ended just a couple of weeks ago, and people are still catching up with it.


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Outlast works under a similar premise; defeat the other teams and win the money, but the difference between both shows is abysmal. Where Physical 100 feels fresh and exciting, Outlast feels boring and dated. This results from using a format that feels so intrusive that the competition feels like something that could have been released alongside the original Survivor. This show has zero innovation; it is just the same old same old. And once the show tells you that the core of the issues will just be the bickering between the participants, you know what to expect.

In contrast, Physical 100 allowed the participants to become their own characters. We are talking about 100 participants, and the production team was still able to find the biggest personalities among them to make the show feel more vibrant and fun to watch. Here in Outlast, we are stuck with sixteen unlikable people who think they know more than they do, and the entire thing just makes them look like the most annoying people ever. People you definitely don’t want to have around.

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There is also this need for the participants to have the most outrageous backstories and explain them in detail to us. Desperate to achieve any sort of connection with the viewer. In Physical 100, people got attached to the participants not because they had sad backstories but because they spoke through their actions. In each test, you could see who was stronger, faster, and who had leadership qualities, all of this without anyone having to proclaim it out loud. Those who didn’t last long, and those are exactly the people we follow in Outlast.

The need for a narrator who explains everything the characters do or say is also quite annoying. It serves as a wall between the participants and the audience. We never really see many people doing anything other than bickering. When it is time to build something, the camera focuses on people complaining instead of letting us see how they build their shelter or base. It is annoying, and all the drama feels quite forced.


It might be annoying to keep bringing up Physical 100 during this review, but American shows need to begin to understand that they are not the pioneers they once were. Outlast coming so close after Physical 100 just proves that they are running on old ideas, while productions in other countries keep moving forward, polishing the structures and premises, and giving people exactly what they want. At some point, it becomes hard to root for anyone in Outlast, and you just want to see the end of it as soon as you can.

We can only hope that a new season of Physical 100 is on the horizon or at least that American producers learn from that show and try to do something similar. It is just so nice to see all the participants respecting each other, even when they lose; it is wonderful. Will they learn? I doubt it. We can only keep hoping.

SCORE: 6/10