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Series / Man vs. Wild

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Man vs. Wild is a Discovery Channel show in which famed survivalist Bear Grylls (actually a nickname; his real name is Edward), runs the audience through techniques and strategies to keep yourself alive when lost and lonely in the wilderness. The show ran from 2006 to 2011.

He visits many many different areas to get the point across, including Zambia, Alaska, the Amazon, the Florida Everglades, and so on and so forth. The point, of course, is that eating bugs is good.

Bear Grylls is perhaps most famous for his strange habit of eating any of the local wildlife small enough (and some that even aren't) to fit in his mouth. After eating a Zambian grub, he proudly proclaimed that it was "like having your friends put their bogeys together and slip it into a sausage. And then put it into your mouth." Brave man, Bear Grylls.

The series took some flak for orchestrating several of the "natural" or "random" happenings, and for implying that the main character roughs it for the duration of the show, while he has on occasion stayed in a hotel. Some of the more egregious offenses include Bear taming "wild" horses (actually trained horses brought in for the show) and having a crew member in a bear costume "attack" his campsite. The show has since opened each episode with a disclaimer to explain that not everything shown actually happened as depicted. Furthermore, starting around mid-Season 4, Bear & crew have pretty much given up on hiding scripted events and signs of civilization.

The series is also compared to Survivorman and both were once considered Dueling Shows... which is odd because they were both on Discovery Channel, and new episodes of one were usually only shown during the off-season of the other.

Starting around Season 4, the producers took a looser interpretation to "wilderness survival" and stopped masking or editing out train tracks, villages, landmarks, and other evidence of human civilization. There's even a Season 5 episode filmed in an abandoned city of Eastern Europe. Meet Bear Grylls: World Adventurer!

The show also got a spin-off on Netflix named You vs. Wild, a Choose Your Own Adventure-style interactive series.

This TV show contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Actually present, in that the concept, the pitch and even the first written material was supposed to make it a much more realistic show, with genuinely helpful advice. Once the development began, though, it gradually morphed into the eventual "Rolling, Jumping & Eating Bugs."
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Some of Bear's advice, and his stunts.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: So says Chris Ryan, actual ex-member of SAS 22, about Grylls's alleged SAS exploits. Later inquiries by reporters seem to show that the host supposedly served in the territorial reserves, SAS 21, which is to SAS 22 about what the US National Guard is to the SEAL units.
  • Carcass Sleeping Bag: In an episode, Bear Grylls hides inside a gutted camel carcass to escape a sandstorm.
  • Celebrity Star:
    • An episode that broadcasted in between Seasons 3 and 4 featured Will Ferrell accompanying Bear through mountains of Sweden. And he was surprisingly competent.
    • Jake Gyllenhaal appeared on an episode, as well, accompanying Bear through mountains of Iceland. He also did it well, considering he apparently has fear of heights.
  • Don't Try This at Home: Unusually, in addition to standard TV disclaimers, this has been often stressed to a much larger extent by real survival experts, who have often warned that anything Grylls does or says in the series would be fatal if actually tried, the random backflips and rolls on building roofs being only the beginning.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Grylls eats and drinks some stomach churning "foods" on this show. A lot of it raw or so fresh that it's still twitching. The production crew that follows him around has an agreement that they'll also take a bite of whatever he scrounges.
  • Hidden Badass: The cameraman. Not only does he do everything that Grylls does, not only does he usually do it first, but he often does it multiple times, to capture footage from different POVs and angles. And he does it while lugging a camera behind and worrying about getting good shots all the time.
  • Kayfabe: It's pretty obvious that certain parts of the show are staged for certain scenariosnote  and there was even a note by one of the staff that most scenes take place not too far away from roads, and several accounts of Bear Grylls checking into hotels while filming. That said, it generally still manages to be entertaining despite this and still doesn't nullify some of the more badass things Bear has done, especially when there was genuine danger involved despite the controlled environment. It also does give out some genuine good survival advice... At least, when it's not giving out Lethally Stupid advice for the sake of playing up drama during filming.
  • Le Parkour: Bear mentions that the French military is now using parkour as a technique for traversing rough terrain quickly, but for what Bear himself looks like when he tries it, see Unnecessary Combat Roll.
  • Luckily, My Powers Will Protect Me: Bear regularly employs a real-life version of this trope; he pauses at some point in the episode just to explain to the viewers how particularly dangerous a certain course of action would be, often with a story about someone who was killed trying that exact same thing. Then he does precisely that, followed by his crew. To date, he is not dead.
    • This was parodied relentlessly and to great effect in the episode "Survivor Man" from The Office.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Bear himself, what with his frequent Shirtless Scenes and all.
    • Pantsless scenes too.
  • Once an Episode: ...Bear jumps out of a plane, climbs up or slides down something, and eats something disgusting.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Evidently, when he's not desperately trying to survive in the godforsaken regions of the planet, Bear is a vegetarian.
    • It could just be a demonstration of survival mentality—if you're stuck in a desert, you'd have to make a really fast choice whether to eat anything (including meat) to keep yourself alive, or to die by limiting yourself to the diet that's only feasible under normal, non-life-threatening circumstances. He gets a lot of flack for not being quite realistic, but it's not like he brings food every time he's dropped in the middle of nowhere.
    • Of course, ever since the show was revealed to be largely staged (the "wild" locations are often just off the road, and the crew does help him and share their supplies, so he's in no real danger), one realizes that he's just breaking his ethics (or perhaps merely his diet regimen, preference, etc) to make better TV.
  • Retool: The show changed premise from survival to adventuring beginning in Season 5.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: Bear has some trouble getting honey from a bee's nest in season 1.
  • Shirtless Scene: On a fairly frequent basis (perhaps not quite once an episode, but close). Pantsless almost as often.
  • Styrofoam Rocks: Most of the show. Admittedly, being targeted primarily at adolescents, it has not particularly strained for realism during its conception stage, but it ended up being promoted as "the real thing", with many of its fans believing it to be one - even after the media started publishing leaked stories of Grylls "surviving" in five-star hotels, "constructing" rafts and equipment pre-made by actual survival experts, capturing "wild" horses (with horseshoes), using special effects to add drama to the footage, and much more. Some time after a real volcanologist busted one of the show's most notorious episodes, revealing some of the trickery - such as using charcoal, lighting and lighter fluid to create the "dangerous lava" within walking distance of a tourist parking spot - the network started adding a disclaimer at the beginning of the show. The most derided episodes, such as the one with the fake lava, are now sometimes omitted in the show's reruns.
  • Television Geography: Again, much of the show (though it will usually be only obvious to those somehow familiar with the locations). During an "urban jungle" special, Grylls explored the sewers in "an abandoned Eastern European settlement" (which was actually a disused section of an otherwise normally operating shipyard in Poland), walking through them for a few minutes and eventually "finding civilization", as he emerged in the middle of a street... which happens to be located in another Polish town, about 20 km away.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Grylls's primary means of movement.
  • Versus Title

Alternative Title(s): Man Vs Wild, You Vs Wild