Reality television has barked up some dark, unfortunate trees in its short history (remember The Swan? Or, like, any show about child beauty pageants?), but has pretty much drawn the line at serious suggestions of death. But I guess it was all just a matter of time, huh? According to Entertainment Weekly, Netflix's forthcoming show, The Push, explores the age-old question: “Can we be manipulated through social pressure to commit murder?” And the answer, apparently, is maybe?
The Push is the first of three specials designed and hosted by British "psychological illusionist" Derren Brown that will air on the streaming site. In a trailer released today, Brown outlines the show's premise, explaining that over 70 actors have been hired to play out a meticulously constructed scenario that forces one man—who is totally unaware he's being filmed—that his only choice is to kill someone. Basically, it's the ultimate troll. That, or a particularly dark episode of Black Mirror come to life.
“Chris is enmeshed in a web of lies, and that’s important,” Brown explains in a voiceover. “I need him to feel like there’s only one way out.”
It's a premise that could easily go awry in the hands of a lesser network, but judging by the trailer, The Push appears thought-provoking and subversive, if maybe not the best premise to set for what constitutes good entertainment these days. "This show is about how readily we hand over authorship of our lives every day," Brown says.
Brown's past illusions include convincing various people that the world has ended, that their plane is crashing and even that they're intoxicated when they haven't had a sip of alcohol, so getting a guy to consider offing somebody certainly seems within his wheelhouse. We'll have to wait until the special airs on February 27 to find out if Chris goes through with the murder, though it seems like it would be an awful lot of paperwork for the network if he did, right? Then again, maybe there's more to the whole thing than initially meets the eye.