“Castaways,” which producer Grant Kahler describes as a “social experiment that tells the stories of everyday people,” airs its second episode at 10 p.m. Tuesday evening on ABC, its first where a contestant leaves the series.
The 10-episode series follows 12 people — including four from the Los Angeles area — who are dropped alone throughout various islets in Indonesia and challenged to survive among washed-up luggage, scattered resources and abandoned structures. The only way to leave the remote islands is to persevere long enough to be rescued or to quit.
“`Castaways’ has no challenges, no games, no hosts, no voting and no individual winner,” Kahler told City News Service. “The only challenge in `Castaways’ is whether or not you can last in this environment until rescue arrives, an unknown date.”
“Castaways” also employs what Kahler calls “documentary-style flashbacks that really help you understand not only where a person comes from, but how that life determines the decisions they make on the islands.”
“A lot of scripted series and films nowadays tell stories in a non-linear form,” Kahler said. “They use flashbacks to give backstory and context to what’s happening in their present-day narrative. I wanted to attempt to do the same in an unscripted show.”
Tuesday evening’s episode includes Robbie Gibbons, a 42-year-old, 390-pound middle school physical education teacher from Birmingham, Alabama, fearing he’s been abandoned after a fellow Castaway fails to return from her exploration of the island, awakening his childhood insecurities.
“This is a very difficult environment and this episode starts to show you that,” said Kahler, whose stint as an executive producer of Discovery’s “Alaska: The Last Frontier” included an Emmy nomination for outstanding unstructured reality program in 2014. “At first glance it may look like paradise but after a few days of hunger and loneliness reality begins to set in.”
The Los Angeles-area Castaways are:
— Angel Alvarenga, a 20-year-old who lives in Chatsworth. He grew up in Honduras, raised by his grandmother after his mother immigrated alone to California. Alvarenga moved to the U.S. when he was 15 to be closer to his mother. His brother was recently injured as a result of gang violence in Honduras, prompting him to find ways to afford to return to his native country and help his brother.
— Terry Allen, a 62-year-old who recently moved back to Agoura to help her aging parents and their growing difficulties with dementia.
— Eric Brown, a 31-year-old who lives in Glendale, who served seven years in the U.S. Navy who was able to pull himself out of depression from what he witnessed while stationed in Iraq, thanks to his recent marriage.
— Tracee Wnetrzak, a 41-year-old self-described super mother and restaurant employee who lives in Quartz Hill in the Antelope Valley and is the primary caretaker of five generations living under one roof.
Other Castaways include a 24-year-old woman from New York City whose family was evicted from their home without notice, forcing them to split up and live in various homeless shelters across the city; a retired U.S. Army Green Beret from Florida who rescues girls from sex-trafficking rings; and an aspiring country music recording artist.
“I was just looking for everyday people who were willing to share their stories and ready for an adventure,” Kahler said. “I’m a true believer that we all have a very unique story to tell but it’s just a matter of whether or not we are willing to share those stories.
“It was important to me that our participants came from all walks of life in order to tell different stories of people from all over the country.”