The Colony is a reality television show which is produced and broadcasted by Discovery Channel. In it, we follow a group of nine people while they struggle to survive for ten weeks in a post apocalyptic environment. We can see how they deal with basic survival concerns such as finding food, water and fuel. It is also interesting to see the more profound issues that arise, such as friendships, leadership and fights among each other.
We have chosen this show as it is interesting to see not only how a group interacts together to reach a certain goal, but also because somehow this group of people are dealing with matters the human race has always been dealing with, which is the basic need of survival. The group is located in a hostile environment, isolated from humanity, and which reproduces what our world would look like after an array of disasters and if the rest of civilization was exterminated by a highly harmful virus.
The episode we looked at is called ‘The abduction’, which is the fifth episode of the second season. In this episode one of the group members is kidnapped by a group of bandits who also live in the same isolated environment, but which are only there to cause havoc. It is interesting to watch this episode as we get to see how the group copes with the pressure from saving Becka, the captive; how they make difficult decisions about the negotiation; and if they manage to think rationally while having so much turmoil around them.
As we discussed our impressions of the team, as well as its members, we found many similarities in our opinions. We have found that the members of The Colony really work together to reach both the main goal of the show as well as the sub objectives they set for themselves in each episode. They also seem to be very attached to each other. When Becka is abducted, we can see that the team is very upset about this and they tell how they miss her.
Another interesting aspect of the group is that they do not blame the abduction on either Becka or just one other person, but they realize it is the group’s mistake. They discuss how their lack of security led to Becka’s abduction, they realize it could have been anyone and they decide to strengthen their defenses. It is also worthy of notice to see that all members of the group are motivated to continue with the project, although not equally.
There were also some differences in our observations of the group. While some of us thought they frequently collide with their views of how to cope with situations, while others thought they respect each other’s ideas. It is to wonder if these seemingly opposite attitudes can also happen simultaneously. It is possible that the group members respect each other’s ideas and decisions, while also arguing about important issues. Although the group members do collide and discuss a lot, it is also true that they reach a decision in the end while considering the ideas and feelings of one another.
When watching the episode we found that our impressions of the members of the group are very similar. We have divided the group into degrees of activeness regarding working as well as making decisions or giving ideas.
-Highly active (The workers):
Reno Ministrelli, the foreman: A young man who isn’t afraid of making mistakes. He makes a lot of important decisions and also works hard for the group.
Sally Dawson, the auto mechanic/shop owner: A young woman who is also very smart and decisive. She gives ideas for every problem they may encounter and also actively works on their projects.
-Moderately active (The leaders):
Michel Slover, the anatomy instructor: A large man who looks strong, gives many ideas and makes important decisions. He seems to know how to be an instructor, and takes that role when bringing people together and encouraging everyone to work together.
Sian Proctor, the geology professor: A strict looking young woman, knows what she wants and how to get it. She also takes the role of a leader, telling everyone what to do and acting almost as a mother. She seems very concerned with other people’s feelings, but is not afraid to have a firm hand if necessary.
-Barely active (The criticizers):
Jim Armistead, the carpenter: He is older and more experienced. He prefers to think rationally first and then act. He seems like some who will criticize other people for their hasty decisions, but he will not do as much himself.
George Willis, the industrial artist: He seems smart but awfully quiet and non active. He is nice and will easily tell others when they are doing either well or not in their job.
Robert Deville, the retired contractor: He is probably the oldest, which gives him the impression he is better than everyone else. He tries to come up with ideas, but will not listen to other people criticizing him. He seems to make many mistakes and not care about it.
Amber Williams, the logging foreman: She is active with ideas and doesn’t mind working hard, but when it comes down to making important decisions she keeps quiet and doesn’t want to make the wrong decisions. She also likes to criticize rather than be straightforward about her feelings.
-Non active (the hostage):
Becka Adams, the model: Even though she has been abducted in this episode and thus we cannot form a clear judgment, we can speculate about her role in the group. When she is abducted, some members of the group comment about her being very lazy and even go as far as to say that she will not be missed, as she was not an essential part of the group. They also comment that she cares more about her looks than about working hard. In this sense, we get the impression she is barely active in the group.
As we have seen, the members of the group engage in criticizing one another, as well as in discussions and decision making. When they do so, it is inevitable that they will stereotype each other and categorize the group members (either deliberately or not). We can see, when they talk about Becka, that they label her as having a ‘typical model behavior’. They mention her being young and naïve, only caring about her looks and not wanting to get her hands dirty.
There also seems to be a division between the older and the younger people. The younger ones work hard and are very active in giving ideas and making decisions. They sometimes comment that the older ones are too passive and believe they are above the rest. In return, the older people seem to believe they are smarter than the rest, and criticize the younger for being reckless and making decisions too hastily and unwisely.
The group has many strengths. Firstly, they all work together for the same goal. Even though some work harder than others, they all contribute to the group. They also try to communicate as much as possible. Every meal they have, they all sit together and discuss their plans and their ideas. One of the most remarkable ways of group communication they have thought of is a bell, which they use in case they want to gather everyone to have a meeting.
Another important aspect of the group is that they all have different backgrounds. This can be seen by some people as negative, as they might collide and disagree a lot with each other. Even though this is true, we see this as a positive asset of the group in general. The fact that they all have diverse capabilities helps them work and make decisions better, as each of them adds a different yet important contribution to the group. Their differences are additional to one another.
After watching the episode, we have also found that the group has many weaknesses as well. Firstly, we have noted that, when stress and pressure come about, the group no longer works as a team. For example, when Becka is abducted, they all let their emotions get the best of them and hardly think rationally. Each has a different idea of how to solve the problem and they have a hard time making a decision. Even when having made a decision, when it is time to negotiate, they all differ in what should be done and conflict arises.
Secondly, many members of the group criticize a lot, but they don’t comprise or come up with new ideas themselves. This has to do with the third weakness we found, which is the fact that they don’t communicate well enough. They don’t seem to think ahead of situations, which in this episode led to the abduction of one of their companions.
We have decided that the group’s biggest weakness is the fact that when stress and pressure came about, the group no longer works as a team. The situation to illustrate this weakness in the episode we watched is when Becka gets back from abduction, the group has to give some food in return for her. The problems begin when some people want to give some of the food they own, others are prepared to give more in order to get Becka back, and yet others don’t want to give any food at all.
After considering everyone’s ideas, we have decided that the best way to solve their problem would be to incorporate all of our ideas. This is how we have assembled a plan which follows a number of steps:
- Prevention: We believe that the first step is for them to prevent any stressful situations.
-Make more actual plans: If they discuss beforehand what they would do if certain things
happen, then they might not get into trouble when making decisions.
-Be open and honest: Especially when they don’t agree with each other, they should say
what they think is best. In the episode, this sometimes doesn’t happen, which leads to
-More structure in the group: The group doesn’t seem to have a specific structure, which
we believe would be very helpful in making decisions. Firstly, they don’t have a
leader. We are not sure whether this is a weakness or a strength, as it can be both
troubling and helpful, but in their case we believe it would help to have some structure, including dividing the group into roles. They should also have a democratic voting system to speed up decision making.
We have analyzed an episode of the television show The Colony. In this particular episode, the members of the group are pressured as one of them is abducted. It is interesting to see how they work as a group, their strengths and weaknesses, their way of making decisions and how some work hard while others seem to be little more than inefficient.
As we watched the episode, we noticed many things. One relevant issue we discovered is their lack of confidence when dealing with stress and pressure. We see this as they talk to the camera and share their experiences, as well as when they interact with each other. We have outlined what we think would be the best way for them to solve their shortcomings, and become a stronger group.
Ultimately, the fact remains that they all depend on each other to reach the goal of the episode as well as the main goal of the program. As this show reflects humanity in general, we can now see that we need to work together to continue existing. As Becka puts it at the beginning of the episode ‘if we can just work together, nothing can stop us’.