What’s the best way to combat public disapproval of the gridlock-causing rivalry between Democrats and Republicans? How about plopping politicians on a deserted island two-at-a-time and forcing them to work together to survive? That seems to be exactly the point U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) would like to prove as the first politicians to star in Discovery’s new TV series, “Rival Survival.”
At a sneak peek event in Washington, D.C., ahead of the show’s premiere Oct. 29 at 10pm, the two senators spoke to the press about how the wild idea they thought would make for a good show was born, as well as some good political team-building. “I’m a big believer that one of the reasons why this town [DC] is having such a hard time functioning is not so much that people are in different places ideologically, but that they don’t trust each other enough to work together,” said Sen. Flake. “The six days that we spent on the island did a lot to bolster our trust in each other.”
In addition to building trust together on the island, the senators worked together to build necessities such as camp fires, shelter and fishing spears. Clips from the upcoming episode showed the two men struggling to start a fire with wet wood and making snide comments about each other’s political parties. Though the show looks to be lacking elaborate challenges in the fashion of “Survivor,” it seems the senators brought their competitive spirits nonetheless. “There’s a lot at stake here…it’s really a pride thing,” said Sen. Heinrich. “You don’t want to be the one who has to be taken care of.”
Senators Flake and Heinrich assured event attendees that their plans for the show were approved by the Ethics Committee, effectively warding off any future accusations concerning the use of taxpayer dollars. During the event both politicians shared that the TV venture was “not for-profit” and that they “traveled on [their] own dime.” Discovery did, however, make a small contribution to a nonprofit as a talent fee. Both senators chose to give to the same nonprofit—Rivers of Recovery–which takes vets on trips to the outdoors.
The show is produced by Renegade, which also produces Discovery’s “Naked and Afraid.” When asked if there would be any obvious similarities between the show and “Rival Survival,” the senators reassured us there would be no nudity. Sen. Heinrich replied, “we were definitely afraid, but not naked.”