"Hello. My name is VAL. Welcome to a unique social experiment, designed to push nine humans to their absolute physical, mental, and emotional breaking points. Locked in isolation pods and cut off from all contact, they are not competing against each other, but against themselves. In the end, only one will remain. He, or she, will leave Solitary with $50,000. My role is to observe what makes them strong, and what makes them weak, to push, to pry, and discover who will crack next. Welcome to Solitary." —VAL, Season 2 opening
Solitary is a Reality Show which aired on the Fox Reality Channel. It features nine contestants locked in isolation pods, and cut off from all contact with each other and the outside world. Their only companion is VAL, a Master Computer who serves as the host of the show. While in isolation, they face a series of tests, treatments, and general torture designed to push them to physical, mental, and emotional extremes. When a contestant can't take it anymore, they push a red button, saying they want to quit the game. Eventually, all the players save one quit. The one survivor wins $50,000.As said earlier, the main twist of this series is that, compared to other Reality Shows, Solitary focuses less on interactions between contestants and more on the sheer isolation. With that in mind, none of them know how the other contestants are doing during challenges/treatments. So long as you're not the first player to quit, you move on, but with no idea on whether or not someone had quit, some people will spend literally hours suffering even when everybody else has quit. As such, none of the games are about competing with others, just your own physical/mental/spiritual limits.The show's current fate is in limbo with the demise of Fox Reality Channel, but previous seasons can still be watched on Hulu.There will be spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.
This show has examples of the following:
The Ace: Number 7 in seasons 1 and 3, who made it all the way to the final treatment without quitting, was the last person standing, and won multiple tests in the process.
In season one, Number 7 never quit a single treatment. At worst, he tied for first on any given task.
Action Girl: All the girls, but especially the Number 3s.
Be Careful What You Wish For: In season 2, the guests were starved for a period of time, then asked what they most wanted to eat. The losers of the test received the food everyone requested... in smoothie format.
Call Back: In Season 1, when Number 5 commented that he was, "caught off guard," VAL responds by showing him a video of himself, highlighting the multiple times he had said those very words in earlier episodes. In Season 2, when Number 8 considers quitting, VAL shows him a video of all the times he had told himself that "I'm not a quitter" or "Do not quit again, ever!" And he was right. Number 8 went on to win the second season.
Combat Pragmatist: Number 7 from Season 2 and Number 9 from Season 3 deliberately choose specific opponents and repeatedly hit them with every penalty and handicap they could, to demoralize them psychologically and hopefully get them to quit. Number 9 succeeded, though he was being excessively cruel about it.
Companion Cube: At least once a season, the players get the chance to interact with one of these.
Computer Voice: VAL's voice for the first season was high-pitched and alien. It became more human in the second season.
Crazy-Prepared: RobRob in Season 3.0. He had built his own pod and performed all the treatments seen in the previous seasons as training for Solitary, and also memorized the personal information of all 18 previous contestants, to the point where he was able to write out their names, numbers, and the reasons why they were eliminated during the experiment.
Gilligan Cut: In Season 4, Number 1 wished for anything but pickle relish and refried beans. Cue another guest mixing exactly that.
Girls are Really Scared of Horror Movies: Inverted in Season 1, when VAL showed the guests a short movie filled with intentionally disturbing images. The one who found it most disturbing was male, who at one point turned away from the movie while shouting, "OH LORD! OH GOD! WHY?!" and after the test, called it, "Shocking, horrific . . . I don't see anything right about that." Meanwhile, one of the female guests wasn't disturbed at all, and actually enjoyed the movie.
Played straight in Season 2.0, when a similar movie and test was posed to the guests. One of the women was easily the most disturbed; before the test began, she rallied, "No scary movies in my pod!" screamed and shouted during the movie, and after it was ended, declared that "I give it TWO THUMBS DOWN!"
Samus Is a Girl: Played with. WE knew Number 3 in season 4 was female, but everyone else, upon hearing she played football in high school, thought she was male. This exist in diffrent ways with each contestant, but Number 3 is the best example.
Serial Escalation: How Val chooses to end some of her more randomized Treatments, stopping them before they actually take place. (Ironically, despite the relatively high levels of Genre Savvy in the show, the contestants rarely recognize that this means the treatment is over.) Notable examples:
First example: After the guests had consumed a huge amount of food in the gluttony treatment and were barely managing not to vomit, VAL teasingly asked them, "How does a plate of lasagna sound?" The guests' reactions were along the lines of, "You have GOT to be kidding me!" before they opened up the meal slot and found that the treatment was over.
Season 1: The liquid fire treatment where Number 7 nearly drank vials #17 and #18 combined.
Season 3: The stool sample treatment, where the final round would've involved sitting on a spiky lawn aerator. And Number 8 STILL tried to sit on it!
Too Kinky to Torture: Number 3 in season 2.0. She was a masochist, and would often compliment VAL on how wonderfully sick and twisted her treatments were.
Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers for the upcoming episodes are ridiculously spoilery. First of all, you can quite easily determine what challenges will come next. When they show scenes of the upcoming treatment, it is also fairly easy to guess who will win the test. The trailers are also spoilery in general.
Video Game Caring Potential: Sometimes large amounts of food that certain players win are "shared" between other players on a whim. Since VAL makes no suggestions towards it, this doesn't happen very often.
Exhibited by the guests of Season 2 to their pet mice.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: In Season 2 and onwards, much more interaction between players occurs. This typically consists of taking away luxuries from, and giving punishments to, the other players, causing rivalries between pods.
You Are Number Six: VAL never refers to the contestants by name, only by the number on their pod.
Subverted in the season finale of 4.0. After number 6 (who was formerly number 7 on 2.0) washes out for the second time, as he exits the pod VAL refers to him as number...Tyler. Definitely a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.