Fox Cancels ‘Utopia,’ a Social Experiment That Failed as TV

Fox Utopia Moving

Fox has pulled the plug on its ambitious reality series “Utopia,” two months into what was supposed to a 12-month, 24/7 chronicle of the efforts of a group of strangers to create a new society while living in isolation on a ranch in Santa Clarita, Calif.

Fox said it would pull the plug on its live stream of the activities on the compound later today. The show had been airing in the Friday 8 p.m. slot, although it was off the air two weeks ago while Fox carried post-season baseball games. As of this Friday the show will be replaced by “MasterChef Junior” reruns.

The cancellation is not surprising. “Utopia” launched Sept. 7 with a plan to air twice a week, in addition to the live feeds available via UtopiaTV.com. But the Tuesday edition of “Utopia” was quickly yanked due to low ratings. The most recent Friday airings averaged a 0.7 rating in the adults 18-49 demo.

“Utopia” was based on a hit Dutch format by reality mastermind John de Mol of Talpa Media. But the U.S. version was clearly out of step with contemporary tastes and required a big commitment from viewers at a time when there are more programming choices than ever.

Part of the plan was also for Fox to charge $5 a month for round-the-clock access to multiple live streaming feeds from the “Utopia” compound.

“Utopia” underwent hasty revisions last month to add more urgency to the show, including the twist of having one of the 15 participants eliminated periodically through a complicated process that involved input from viewers who paid for the 24/7 access and the “Utopians” themselves. But viewers never responded.

Earlier Sunday, there was no indication on the live stream that the remaining participants were aware that the project was about to end. The conceit of the show was to send disparate personalities up to the ranch with minimal provisions and no contact with the outside world while they were challenged to build their own society from the bottom up.

Conrad Green, formerly with “Dancing With the Stars,” was showrunner and exec producer of “Utopia,” along with de Mol, Marc Jansen, Jon Kroll and David Tibballs.

“Utopia” was championed by the previous programming regime at Fox under Kevin Reilly, who exited as entertainment chairman in June. It was also a big swing taken by Simon Andreae, the producer who joined Fox as head of alternative programming last October.

The network’s new stewards, Fox Television Group chairmen Gary Newman and Dana Walden, expressed support for the daring concept, but with the network facing an uphill climb in elsewhere in primetime, “Utopia” was an experiment Fox could no longer afford.

 

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  1. TRAVIS FENOFF says:

    so is there anything else from the social side of the game that I could apply for. been waiting 20 years to get on some sort of reality for social game

  2. Disappointed Person says:

    I cannot believe people would rather watch one of those chef shows over this. Why with the low ratings? I watched this on a plane, and was hooked. Reality TV sucks, this and Amazing Race are the only reality shows I find interesting. Why in the world do people want more god-awful chef shows, or shows glamorizing the life of famous idiots? What kind of simpleton nation wouldn’t want to watch something where people from all backgrounds actually have to learn to collaborate and create their own society? Seriously? You can still watch your precious chefmaster, its just a friggin re-run. I hope someone decides to create a similar show, which will hopefully captivate the attention of our generally mindless generation, to satisfy those of us who appreciate genuinely interesting experiments. I adored this show, and I was hooked from the first moment I saw it. So sad to see it go.

    Never mind that they made some mistakes with causing false ‘drama’. I agree that kinda sucked, but this whole concept still interests me. I would love to see a society collaborate and decide on their own sort of ‘constitution’. See the kind of people that would work hard to develop their society, and those who would not contribute or rebel. Some of the systems with the money was kind of screwed up, they should have worked with it to create a higher motivation of setting up some sort of renewable necessities. Anyways, great concept, and I hope someone tries again when they tweak the mechanics of the show.

  3. Pat says:

    What a bummer! I really liked this show and looked forward to every show. I got addicted to it!
    I guess when money came into it, viewers didn’t want to pay. I didn’t see this when it actually aired on TV. I wish it would return. I think Bella had to go with all her complaints. Goodbye Utopia!

  4. Stephanie says:

    That’s a bummer! My boyfriend and I recorded the episodes and watched them together weekly! We loved the show, loved the idea. To bad FOX cancelled it 😐

  5. that sucks i was wondering why it just stopped. i was watching and loved it

  6. Marc says:

    Agree to me the show was new and bold and fun at the same time

  7. Krystal says:

    My daughter and I loved the show. I agree that just pulling a show mid season is really crappy, and they don’t care about those who committed to watch it, over something else then they screw us mid season. I chose utopia to watch verses something else I have always watched every season due to conflict, to give utopia a try, and now I am out both shows. Never would have stopped watching my other show, if I had known this one would get pulled off before the first season was done. My daughter really related to the show, because she is taking economics class in high school, and she would use the show, and relate certain issues with her econ class. It was perfect. Disappointed….

  8. Mar V says:

    FOX seems to be in the habit of just yanking shows off the air like this. It seems to me they don’t care much about their viewers. They get viewers interested in a show and then, with no warning, the show is just gone. I, for one, will be boycotting FOX from now on.

  9. Tia Pachuilo says:

    WE LOVED THE SHOW! My husband an I both 56 yrs. To bad :-(

  10. Sonja says:

    The website never really worked properly either. I set up my email etc and could never quite gain accsess to anything promised. I loved the idea, but execution was not properly planned for.
    The show taking two weeks off was a big mistake. The fact that these alleged ‘utopians’ had no idea about survival, had few skills (gosh, I mean Hex as Huntress? What a joke!) , kept to the Democracy model on everything from the get go and never evolved to anything of importance. Casting was a serious problem. The Survivor model works better. A shame though, was hoping for hard times to hit and some real shit going down. Btw, as an organic farmer- ha! They didnt have a clue and would have starved to death by mid December.

  11. Hollywood Gurl says:

    I watched every episode and liked the show! Josh, you rock!

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  14. Joseph Foust says:

    my wife and I ages 51 and 58 enjoyed the show! however after the pastor left and Dave wasn’t welcomed back..then Red was voted off. the show we still watched but not nearly as interesting..

  15. Vesta says:

    What a joke. I never saw anything produced from the garden, not one tomato, radish or head of lettuce. I never saw the “chef” cook anything they grew or caught, like a fish or venison or make home made bread or even fry an egg that just came out of a chicken’s bum. I never saw them pickle or jar anything for winter. I never saw them make soap, make a candle, sew a garment or have to figure out any kind of ingenious way to make what they needed for daily survival. I did see them hammer and build a very bad shack but nothing that could be a home…how interesting it would have been if they had all pitched in to build themselves small homes or cabins where they could escape the cameras if they got them constructed,..or if they had showed what came from the garden that week and what they cooked with it. Why wasn’t the show more informative about how to build, cook, gather fuel, conserve food and store food…make things and what it takes to actually take care of animals, how to build and sustain a garden, and actually work to get things done…instead of watching a group of selfish spoiled idiots drink and run around without any clothes trying to get laid while complaining and whining that they were misunderstood. Seriously? I’m surprised they survived as long as they did even with all the assistance, groceries, and everything they “earned” or were given by productions staff from a world that has already commercialized and packaged everything ready for them. It could have been an interesting and informative DIY type of reality show that I would love to have watched…but instead it was just another cheesy fighting group of lazy idiot actors that didn’t know anything at all and who were only successful in realizing their extreme stereotyped roles. Sad.

  16. Carla says:

    The fail is all Due to the fox network! I have viewed other countries Utopia show and they did play out as a controlled reality show! Fox always thinks that they need drama but in this case they didnt! What we wanted to see is strangers rebuild a society from nothing! What we got was young pretty people without a clue! So a year project failed and they scraped it in under 3 months! Shocker! Not really an experiment since you are willing to junk it quickly!

  17. ZG says:

    David Tibballs and Lisa Levinson raped this show.

  18. UtopianFanInAlabama says:

    I am so sad to see the show cancelled. I loved the show and watching the live feeds. I wish them all the best back in their lives outside of Utopia. My favorite Utopians were Josh, Bella, Nikki, and Ernesto

  19. Dunstan says:

    Yes, this show as idiotic from the get-go. But so is Survivor, Big Brother, The Apprentice and on and on. To borrow a line from David Letterman: “So many social mutants. So little time.”

    And trust me. This will not put a dent in the development of reality TV. These production companies, and I know some of them very well, go berserk trying to come up with the next big thing. They brutalize their employees and don’t treat people fairly. I hope they all disappear.

  20. Zo0tie says:

    Next time you do this put your people on an isolated deserted island where cannibalism is legal and no help of any kind will come from outside for a year. I guarantee you that will keep the audience watching.

  21. Carly says:

    Why does Variety keep calling the Dutch version a “hit.” It’s a big flop in Holland, losing more than 50% of its premiere audience. And it cost John de Mol and RTL a fortune. They are losing their asses on this expensive dud. But not as much as Fox.

    • Fact checker says:

      The show in Holland is on SBS, not RTL. You should get your facts straight before you post. It makes your post seem uneducated, but hey, if the glove fits?

  22. Tracey says:

    The show could have been interesting had they got participants with skills to build a Utopia. Instead they got homeless excon’s, nudist, poly amorous, and crazy people. The show producers clearly didn’t take their own concept seriously.

  23. Reblogged this on Poems and Other Shit by James J. Jackson, Jr. and commented:
    This show was an idiotic idea from the start, who would think that Fox would make a bad call on a reality show.

    Said literally no one with a TV above the age 10, ever.

  24. Sheila Bass says:

    very upset we as online viewers were not given the opportunity to see the goodbyes & the reactions. Now I have one less show to watch on FOX, more on CBS.

  25. Patricia says:

    I watched the show many hours a day. Loved it until the Producer’s became involved. Talking people out of leaving wasn’t cool. Voting out was not good either. If someone left then fill the vacancy by vote. Now that you took November payment October 29th when will you return to you viewers?

  26. Charles Tudor says:

    Unless the main characters are VERY interesting and colorful, audiences are getting real tired of seeing situations where some producer thought it would be neat to take people out of their regular situations and drop them into some contrived situation. Why should the audience really care? I find myself yelling at the screen..”Hey folks…there are about 3 camera ops staring at you ….ask one of them for help. And that also goes for the guys alone out in the wilderness with just a camera. You asked for it. Tough luck if ya die out their alone. I really do not care any more. This carny sideshow aspect of TV is just getting old and worn out.

  27. Charles Tudor says:

    I saw the promos for this while living in Holland and caught a few minutes of a few episodes. As an American TV viewer I said to myself…..it would never fly if it crossed the pond. Yepers….

  28. RobinPickles says:

    It was never real.. the big problem.. they hired actors… (out of work ones)… we dint want another fake reality show.

  29. My November monthly payment was paid, are they going to refund us??

  30. AC says:

    Uber for Simon Andrae!

  31. John Shea says:

    Maybe ‘Dystopia’ would do better.

  32. Glenn C. says:

    Never should have happened. Ridiculous. Why watch a show about this subject matter when you are surrounded by it in the real world EVERY day!!!
    What a waste of money! Another great decision from some high paying suit and his/her big ego!

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