Eden sees 23 people go to a remote part of the Scottish Highlands to build a new society. When they arrived, the contestants were allowed to take with them only what they could carry and the basics needed to start their experience. It has been described as “the most extreme reality TV show yet”: those involved will spend a year taking part, and nothing of such length and intensity has been tried before. The show explores some profound questions about human relationships which have featured in classic literature for many years, as well as the role of modern life.
Eden is an ambitious experiment, but it is also a logical extension of recent trends in TV programming. Since the release of Big Brother in 2000, viewers in Britain – and many similar countries – have become particularly interested in shows which show ordinary people coping with unusual situations.
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The question of whether human nature is inherently good or evil has caused fierce philosophical debate for centuries. Will Eden’s competitors co-operate or compete with each other – and if so, which will be more beneficial for the group as a whole? What rivalries will develop? And how will people behave when freed from the norms that govern behaviour in the modern western world?
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The contestants have been carefully chosen for their abilities to contribute to the new society. Their new society has no heating or running water, and towards the end of their time in Eden they will face a harsh Scottish winter. Why are people so keen to test their most primeval instincts? And how much do we still need them in our age of apparent comfort?
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Eden’s participants have left behind their material goods. Their new society is free of tweets, selfies, text messages, computers and phones. The show promises to shed some light on the role of these goods in securing human happiness. Do material advances free us to improve our lives, or enslave us into a dissatisfying society?
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The development of new technology and widespread migration has appeared to bring people rapidly closer together in recent years. But many people reject the rapid changes the world is undergoing. Traditional political structures are creaking, and there has been widespread anger at the global financial system. Eden appears to be an aptly timed look at the growing urge for something new.
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