Generally, I am not really at TV person, and I really don’t like reality television shows. I will watch movies sometimes as background or simply for light entertainment, but I’d much prefer to listen to music or do something more creative. However, Matt turned me on to this show that I wanted to share, because I think you guys might appreciate it.
The show is called “Risking It All” and is focused on three families that decide to try their hand at living off the grid out in the middle of nowhere, with varying degrees of success and different ideas of what an ‘unplugged’ lifestyle is like. Unlike a lot of reality television shows, this show isn’t centered around drama (although I won’t deny there is some) and doesn’t seem even half as rehearsed as many of the other shows in the genre.
I think the thing that caught my attention the most was the varying degrees of self-sufficiency and the different definitions of ‘off-the-grid’ that each family settles on. One of the families has solar panels, while another had to dig their own well for running water. It all comes down to what they’re willing to live with.
The show is pretty new, and only four episodes have aired so far, with the most recent airing last night. “Risking It All” is on TLC and airs on Tuesdays at 10/9 central. I haven’t seen the most recent episode, but I just finished watching Matt’s copy of the first three episodes. If you are interested here’s a brief summary of the families and a quick recap of what you’ve missed so far:
From: Boiling Springs, SC
Married for: 18 years
Reason for going off the grid: They decided to ‘risk it all’ to help their family unplug and become closer together.
Destination: Sparta, NC to a 300 acre plot of land (100 of which is pasture, the rest woods)
Goals: They intend to build their own house and live off the land, but they aren’t necessarily forsaking things like electricity.
So far, the Kemps have actually done pretty well and I think they might actually make it. In the first few eipsodes, they set up a sort of ‘base camp’ while David and kids cleared a path to the site in the woods where they intend to build a semi-permanent home. In the first three episodes, the family is staying in a group of tents near an uninhabitable house as a sort of ‘base camp.’ They brought their own generator and brought quite a bit of food with them until they can get a garden going. At the end of the third episode, the Kemps have finished their makeshift road to the new site and also completed the ‘deck’ platform (with wood they purchased and had delivered) upon which they are going to construct a pretty elaborate tent to house their 7-person family.
From: Charleston, SC
Married for: 14 years; Callie and Brett are high school sweethearts
Reason for going off the grid: They decided to ‘risk it all’ to save their marriage, as Callie and Brett have been going through a rough spot. They also want to get their kids to unplug and help become more of a family.
Destination: Mars Hill, NC, to a 13.5 acre plot which features an old barn and a spring
Goals: The family intends to engage in sustainable self-sufficient living in the cabin and to get ‘off the grid.’
The Watfords have had a few setbacks, including an argument between Callie and Brett over the stresses of trying to set up their new life and keep the kids focused. In a move I think is incredibly stupid, Callie told the boys that the move was only for the summer instead of permanent (so I’m waiting for that hammer to fall). As far as making things work, they dug out a spring and have established running water and are working towards teaching the boys how to cook and survive.
From: Mulvane, KS
Married for: 16 years
Reason for going off the grid: They decided to ‘risk it all’ to try and improve Tina’s health. Tina was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis, osteoporosis and Von Willebrand disease when she was in her 30s and wants to try a more holistic approach and natural medication to try and deal with the symptoms of her condition and also help her family grow together.
Destination: Elmira, OR to a pretty reasonably-sized plot with several broken-down buildings.
Goals: They intend to build the house themselves and live as disconnected as possible.
Additionally: In addition to the family, they brought 8 dogs, 17 rabbits and 2 parakeets with them.
Unlike the other two families, I have the feeling that the Elliotts are going to make things work, but not in the ‘off the grid’ manner of the other two. They seem pretty prepared, but have had some setbacks. In the first few episodes, they lost one of the two parakeets (which was devastating to the youngest child) and built a dog pen and some rabbit cages for the animals. They created a firepit and cleared some of the land while waiting for a building permit. On the last episode, they discovered that the building permit was going to be delayed by a month and decided to repurpose the abandoned house to stay in until they can get the permits to start building. There has been some contention between Blake and Tina about electricity–Blake brought a solar panel and has used it to power his computers, but Tina doesn’t want any kind of electricity. It will be interesting to see how they compromise on that.
Of course, as it is a television show, I am sure that they have far more help and resources as the show producers would like you to believe (gotta fund it somehow, right?) and their ideas of living ‘off the grid’ probably isn’t the same as someone who isn’t on a reality television show. However… I have to say I’m rather interested to see how it goes and how well they manage. I don’t know that I would be brave enough to move somewhere without water, and I definitely couldn’t build my own house (although I am sure my father could). And, despite myself, I am rather interested to see where it goes…