Is Outlast on Netflix Real or Fake?

By Kieran Burt
Published: March 17, 2023 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)
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Is Outlast on Netflix real or fake? We discuss if the survival show is as unpredictable as the rules make out or if the show was scripted. There will be spoilers.

Outlast is a familiar survival show; it takes 16 ordinary people, divides them into teams, and tells them that the last surviving team wins. But it takes this format and iterates on it by giving it a unique twist. The only rule is that there are no rules (well, a few minimal rules).

This frees up the contestants to try and win by any means necessary, and of course, they do. This seems to have created a backlash on social media, with people calling out the unethical tactics and, unfortunately hurling abuse at some of the contestants. People have also claimed the show is fake, saying the whole thing was scripted. But is this true?

What are the rules for Outlast on Netflix?

At first glance, Outlast looks very similar to many other survival games, opening similarly to Survivor, dividing people into teams in which they work together. But Outlast makes one massive change to the otherwise stale formula, and it does this through an ingenious subtraction.

There are only a few limited rules in Outlast. To win the million-dollar prize, a player must be part of a team. The only way out of the game for players is to give up. The players must be part of a team at all times, and they can switch teams any time they want, so long as the team they’re switching to accepts them. There is also no time limit to how long the game can last, but the producers made contestants hike to the reward at the end to prevent the game from going on for years. It’s still a TV show, after all.

That’s it, though. No rules are saying what a player can or can’t do to another team, a twist that inevitably results in a Lord of the Flies nightmare. Players resort to underhand tactics such as stealing, burning down their camp to prevent others from using it, and treating other contestants like dirt to win.

Is Outlast on Netflix Real or Fake?

Outlast has generated a lot of outrage on social media, with people criticizing the immoral tactics on display. Some people have even gone as far as to accuse the show as fake and having a script. This is probably unlikely, as while the people sent into the wilderness have no survival skills, it’s still possible for the constants to survive with enough resourcefulness and being prepared. And that’s precisely what executive producer Grant Kahler explained in an interview with Netflix Tudum.

“Whenever I scout, I meet with local experts, local hunters and survival people.” Kahler says. “A lot of times, I’ll take along survival experts who’ve gone through military SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training. We go out and evaluate the area; like, there’s mussels here, there’s salmon during these months, there’s this type of deer, fish or crab. [We ask] what type of wood is there? Is there enough dead wood to burn? If you don’t choose the right place, the contestants are going to end up having nothing.”

A show like this would be challenging to script as the environment the contestants are in is highly unpredictable. Two people had to evacuate because of medical emergencies, which is unlikely to have been planned.

READ: Which Team won in Outlast Season 1?

Is Outlast scripted?

Some fans have pointed out the various ways they think Outlast has been staged. On Reddit, users expressed their reasoning for this, saying that the show was “Definitely scripted. When they are looking for the guy who stole the sleeping bags there’s a whole camera crew with him and they walk right past. Bummer. Could have been as good as Alone,” said one user. Another user said, “The guy swims across a freezing river in underwear and doesn’t even shiver when he’s out. Look at their firewood. Straight cuts made by a power saw. The wood in that area would be to wet to burn. All they would get was a lot of smoke.”

One of the contestants, Jill Ashlock, seems to suggest the show is scripted. In Instagram posts responding to the extreme backlash her tactics used on the show, Ashlock suggests the show was fake.

“You all had an opportunity to see something that was completely construed and rise above. It gave you just enough that if your heart was in the right place, then there was no way you could get it wrong,” Ashlock said in one post, suggesting that Netflix might have given her a bad edit. In an earlier post, she accuses Netflix of counting the amount of fish Team Alpha caught wrong. The show says they caught three, but a post on Ashlock’s Instagram claims they caught eight.

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