Life is hard. No question about it. But it was a lot harder for our ancestors, where food couldn’t be bought in supermarkets, but rather had to be caught and killed, and wounds could become fatal if not cared for. This was a time when man was truly wild, and survival meant silently stalking your prey, climbing high in trees to escape predators, and utilizing every resource available to keep yourself alive. Survival of the fittest has never been more apt than the that bygone era of prehistoric man. Obviously that time has long gone, but there are still plenty of men and women who blaze though the forests, swim raging rapids, and spend their days hanging out in treetops. Its these brave people who are the focus of Discovery’s American Tarzan. In the American reality gameshow (which first aired July 6th 2016) the action takes place on a remote island, where seven contestants have to endure mother nature’s most brutal obstacle course in their efforts to master the wilderness.
So how does the show work? Well with a lot of hard work. In an epic journey through four distinct terrains; the jungle, coast, mountains and canyons, the contestants must live completely off the Dominican land, while tackling the most punishing obstacles on earth. They will face conditions that require care and serious thought as well as skill, relying on nothing more than basic tools, mental toughness and brute strength. After kayaking through open water to reach the inhospitable island, the first challenge is to navigate an impenetrable jungle filled with vines, roots and steep cliffs, a harsh taste of the myriad obstacles the island will throw at them. Over the subsequent weeks, challengers will traverse dense jungles, raging rivers and towering mountains, all while foraging for food to keep them fueled for the long and strenuous journey. At the end, only one will be crowned American Tarzan.
Now that we know about the show, let’s take a quick look at some of the seven contestants. First up is Jeremy from Bufallo, NY who has always been an all-around athlete. As a child, he played hockey, soccer and basketball, and now as a Reconnaissance Marine, he is a master swimmer. He is a jack-of-all-trades, who competes in Ninja Warrior, practices yoga, does parkour, runs, swims, bikes, practices martial arts, and all kinds of climbing. Jeremy runs a gym called Build a Machine Fitness, where he teaches parkour among other disciplines. Jeremy had intense survival training through SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) School. It prepared him to survive in any situation, and survive without food for three days. He says, “The body won’t quit – only the mind will, if you let it.” Next is Tim Reames from Austin, Texas. As a Recon Marine, Reames is nigh-on indestructible. He refuses to quit no matter how broken down his body gets. As a military veteran, Reames is competing to honor his friends who didn’t get to return home to their families. He feels that if he is lucky enough to be alive to compete, he should do it for his fallen friends who aren’t. Now out of the army, Reames works as a private military contractor, and also trains law enforcement officers in shooting, hostage rescue, and active vehicle target shooting Extremely competitive, Reames has a black belt in the mysterious Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won, which encompasses body conditioning, mental development, and weapons training. Reames says his wife and his son Chase are his rocks, and helped “put him back together” after he returned from war.
Tim Olson from Boulder is on a path of redemption. After school he explains how he felt directionless and suffered many lows. Drugs and alcohol provided some respite, and became a daily habit. Unhappy, lost, and self-destructive, Tim faced death multiple times due to his substance abuse. Finally, he had an epiphany that he wanted to live. An ounce of resolve kicked in, and he started running – first to get back in shape, and eventually it became his new addiction, replacing the alcohol and drugs. Today, Tim has been clean and sober for over nine years, and he is now one of the top ultra-marathon runners in the world, running races of up to 100 miles! He wants to win so that he can inspire others, and prove that you can overcome anything to reach your dreams.
Maria has always been fearless. In high school she joined the men’s wrestling team – the only woman to do so. When she moved to Las Vegas, she took up street luging, a dangerous, adrenaline-charged sport. Sadly, a tragic mistake sent her luging off a cliff, and she broke her spine. Doctors told her she might never be able to walk again. But she refused to accept the prognosis. Maria claims there was a brief period of self-pity, but with family support, positivity and hard work, she recovered better than ever. She started rehabilitation and training, and before long, she entered in competitions such as Tough Mudder, Spartan Races, and CrossFit competitions. Five years after her injury, she has defied all odds, and is in impeccable physical health. It’s a testament to her fearless attitude in life – she never accepts NO for an answer. Every day she pushes herself and others around her. She wants to inspire others by competing in this competition. Recently, Maria put her survival skills to the test when she spent a whole week alone in the Peruvian rainforest with only a pot, fire-starter, machete, mosquito net, and fishhook – and survived! In addition, to these hardened survivalists we’ve taken a deeper look at, there is also Brandon, Kim, and Derrick – who are just as tough and just as determined to win!
So whilst the show certainly sounds like an adrenaline pounding ride, and the contestants suitably tough and nutty enough to take part, exactly how popular is the show and has it done enough to secure itself a second season? Unfortunately, there is no official renewal from Discovery Channel as yet, but as the show only recently finished its first season, there isn’t much cause for concern. In terms of viewership, things are quite rosy for American Tarzan, with the show premiering to a million viewers and a 0.3 rating in the 18-49 demo, declining to 0.88 million further on, with the rating settled at the same level. Reviews aren’t quite as positive, with the show getting a pretty average score of 5.2 out of 10 on IMDB. Still, the show certainly has all the trappings of a hit series, and first seasons always need a bit of ironing out, so we think this one will get the greenlight for a second adventure.
There are currently no Blu-ray or DVD versions available of American Tarzan available to buy, but if you wish to watch the show online, you can do so via Amazon Instant Video for $2.99 per episode. You may also be able to catch reruns of the show on Discovery’s channel if you live within the US – which you can access via DirecTV: 278 (HD/SD) / 1278 (VOD), Dish Network: 182 (HD/SD), AMC 10-Channel 21, Verizon FiOS: 620 (HD) / 120 (SD), Sky Angel:313, AT&T U-Verse: 1120 (HD) / 120 (SD), and Southern Fibernet (Atlanta, GA): 1123 (HD) / 123 (SD). If you aren’t within the US then Amazon is going to be your only real way of legally watching some episodes.
Are you a big fan of survival shows, or do you think it’s time they tracked their way right off our screens? Have you been watching the show and have a favourite survivalist – what is it about them that you connect with? If the show does return for a second season, do you think it should still be set in Dominica, or should the producers change up the scenery with a new location? As always, we want to hear what our users have to say, so if you have some spare time feel free to pop your thoughts and musings down in the comments section below, and connect with other readers on the site. Plus if you want to know instantly whether your favourite shows will be around to binge on next season then just click the subscribe button! You’ll receive news and updates on whether your selected television shows have been renewed or cancelled, and you’ll receive an automatic email when the exact release date for the second season of American Tarzan is officially announced by Discovery.