Every once in a while, a TV show comes around with an idea that unbelievably hadn’t been covered in a Mr. Show sketch or a Sacha Baron Cohen movie. In this case, we’re talking about an unscripted reality show from the Czech Republic which will give a family the “opportunity” to experience an abridged version of what it was like to live under Nazi occupation in World War II. I don’t think we’ll be seeing an American port of this any time soon.
With a name that certainly doesn’t roll off of the tongue with ease, the series Holiday in the Protectorate debuted its premiere episode on Saturday, May 23, and apparently it wasn’t so cataclysmic that instant cancellation soon followed. The show will last for eight episodes, with the family of seven at the heart of the series in the running to win 1 million Czech Republic Korunas, which comes out to a little more than $40,000, assuming they make it through the entire two-month process. And while it seems foolish to think they won’t, this isn’t exactly the most common of situations.
The multi-generational family, which was picked out through a hardcore audition process, will live in the countryside without modern amenities such as refrigeration and running water. Their duties will involve milking cows, harvesting crops, fortifying an air-raid shelter, sewing curtains and more, all while dealing with hunger pains and food rationing. This might not be a happy dinner table after a couple of weeks.
After all, the entire time they’re living this throwback life, there will be actors playing German soldiers always on the horizon, with Gestapo raids as an ever-present threat. The entire affair is under the supervision of two historians, two psychologists and an architect, all of whom will make sure everything adheres to the authenticity needed to make this nightmarish scenario remain legitimate. They’ll even be using money from the time period, although I’m not sure what they’ll be buying.
Of course, this isn’t just an exercise in small screen torture porn or anything, even though the series has already received its fair share of negative criticism. Here’s how show director Zora Cejnkova described her intentions to ABC News.
I was inspired by the horrific wartime stories of my maternal grandparents, who lived in a small town in the highlands of Bohemia. I wanted people to see what hardships ordinary people had to go through to survive Nazi occupation. It was interesting to see how people make decisions under such psychological pressure, in front of TV cameras.
It helps that the threat of death isn’t present as well. We probably won’t get to see this reality series stateside without a streaming service coming into it, but Netflix did put Inglorious Basterds up last week, so there’s that.