Last week’s premiere of National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers was every bit the train wreck we’ve come to expect from the series, which features eccentric disaster-preparedness fanatics spending tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to prepare for a variety of disaster scenarios.
Tennessee-based prepper Big Al was afraid of a Soviet nuclear attack, and somehow thought that Valdimir Putin would give him enough time to drive halfway across a continent to his questionably safe wood-heated underground bunker. Future serial killer Jason Beacham coldly planned to leave his mom behind and pal around with knuckleheads his own age that might one day make a good meal. The Southwick family was the only family on last week’s episode that seemed to have a chance of lasting more than a few days, though the smallpox outbreak scenario the family patriarch was preparing against was farfetched at best.
The second episode, “Bad Times All the Times,” is a bit less insane than last week’s show, and actually offered up two prepper families that have a shot at surviving… along with a third that may end up split by the self-deportation to Colombia of the most rational person the show has seen since it’s been on the air.
Jay Blevins is worried about the breakdown of social order following an economic collapse, which is a recurring theme so far this season, being the scenario cited by three of this season’s six preppers so far. It seems clear that President Obama’s economic policies are having the same effect on the disaster prep industry as it has on the gun industry.
The Blevins family lives in Berryville, VA, roughly 60 miles west of Washington, D.C. A former law enforcement officer, Jay believes in the “sheltering in place” model of prepping, versus the “bug-out” model that all of last week’s preppers chose. He has decided to fortify his stately suburban cul-de-sac home instead of fleeing for the hills. His use of pre-cut 3/4″ plywood sheets to prevent entry through first-floor windows is fairly solid conceptually, and would probably work against the random mob violence and looting he’s prepping against.
After mentioning his “circle of force,” Jay whips up a batch of home-brewed pepper spray that he makes out of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce and, better yet, convinces two men in his prepper group to be shot with it. They go down in pain and misery (to our amusement), but it’s obvious that the home brew doesn’t work as good as the commercial-grade product.
Jay has also developed a quick reaction force out of his local prepper network made up of neighbors. There’s no way to know how effective they would be, but a dozen or more armed opponents would probably do a decent job of persuading looters that they’d rather be elsewhere.
After the Blevins family, we meet Brian Murdock. Like Big Al from the premiere, Brian is worried about nuclear war, where he thinks 1/3 of humanity will die. Brian lives on the outskirts of Boston but bought 50 acres of rural land with two shallow ponds and a well in upstate New York… 375 miles, and a seven-hour drive from his home. Like Big Al, he seems to think he’s going to get plenty of warning of a nuclear attack. He plans on bugging-out and living in an RV that doesn’t look particularly nuke-proof.
The one thing Brian thinks he’s missing from his prepper planning is a proper prepper wife, and he can’t seem to find anyone in this country who will consider filling that role. Because of this, we get to meet Tatiana, who met Brian via an online dating site and has made her first trip to Boston from Colombia to be Brian’s bride. Tatiana seems to know that Brian considers himself a prepper, but it was obvious from the moment she hit the door that she had no idea what Brian has planned for them as a couple.
She had no idea he plans to bug-out to a RV in NY, and she thinks he’s crazy. Why did she come here? Folks tweeting the episode summarized their meeting as “mail-order gold-digger meets insensitive idiot,” and I think that’s somewhat unfair to the gold-digger… I mean, Tatiana.
While many (obviously including Brian) think Colombia is a third-world backwater, Tatiana quickly shows herself to be among the most level-headed people to have ever ventured in front of a Doomsday Preppers camera. She makes a point that many religious people might take to heart: God will protect you or take you at his will, so why live your life in fear?
Quite frankly, Tatiana has more sense about what matters than her poorly prepared, slow-witted companion, and it may take an act of God to force her to stay with such an obvious buffoon.
Bryan and Lacey May own a car stereo business in Indiana, and are worried about a super-quake on the New Madrid fault.It’s not the most insane prepper scenario imaginable, though I can’t find any credible scientist that thinks a mid-plate fault like the New Madrid could see a quake rip the country apart, forming a sea between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico as Bryan envisions.
The couple have no savings or extra income, so they… started selling sex toys? Nat Geo made an abrupt and bizarre cut to commercial right after mentioning this gem, and it happened so quickly that you wonder if the segment was an “oops” the network cut away from as a mistake. That sentiment is only reinforced when they come back from commercial and Bryan comes back and starts talking about bartering and how important he thinks it will be to have precious metals (gold and silver) and various trade items on hand after the quake.
To make money to build up their cache of trade goods and supplies, the May family breeds lizards called “bearded dragons” for pets. Then we go back to the adult toys web site. We didn’t imagine it! No, I’m not going to make a cheap joke tying these devices to the 40 car batteries they have in the basement. People, come on.
Bryan also bartered for a shipping container that they plan to bury in the backyard and connect to their basement as an emergency fallback if things get too dicey. They have more than a year’s supply of food on hand in addition to all their trade goods, lizards, and vibrators.
It may sound funny, but laugh at them at your peril. The May family may not look like much, but they display the cunning that got us to the top of the food chain, and their ingenuity and creativity might keep their descendents there long after the rest of us have killed each other battling over the last Twinkie.
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