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A few days ago, KPD and I were trying to find something to watch. Kid was away at swim camp, so we couldn’t watch Warehouse 13, which is our current family watch. We were browsing around Netflix looking for something good when I stumbled across The Quest, an ABC reality show described this way on their website:

The Executive Producer of The Lord of the Rings has joined forces with the creators and producers of The Amazing Race to conjure a land of magic and malevolence, where mythical creatures lurk in the woods. For 12 lucky souls, a fantastic world will come alive in a unique competition series where players will engage in epic challenges.

I thought this sounded awesome. KPD thought it sounded like watching other people LARPing. But he was willing to give it a try, just to see what it was.

One episode in, we were both obsessed. I think we watched two or three episodes before the Kid got home from camp. Since then, we’ve watched through episode 6, and we’re bingeing away and loving every minute.

When I started this post, I felt a little off-topic because the Kid had refused to watch until today. But I put the computer aside when KPD cam in to watch more, and a few minutes later, the Kid emerged from her room, where she had figured out how to put USA Swimming logos on her nails (so cool!) She plunked herself down on a chair in the living room and started asking questions. Now she, too, is hooked.

I am, like many people, susceptible to reality show manipulation. It’s not my favorite thing, as I generally prefer scripted shows or flat-out game shows. But of course these shows are made to be addictive, and they are. But this one has captured us more than previous shows. I think it’s because of two elements.

1. The script

Unlike most reality shows, this one has a plot. Twelve heroes are competing to prove which one is the True Hero who will save Everealm from the evil Verlox. The plot moves forward with each episode and, while it tends to unfold in the predictable rhythm we expect from reality shows (group challenge, individual challenge, voting off, celebration, crisis) it does move forward. One is interested, at the end of each episode, to find out what will happen next. And the written characters are fun, too. It’s fun to see what they will do, and it’s also fun because I’m sure they have written characters, but they have to improvise quite a lot as they interact with the competitors, and I know that’s a lot of fun for actors.

2. The fantasy

These twelve people all love fantasy of one kind or another. Comic books, role playing games, renaissance faires–whatever. Each of them loves something in the genre. And so watching them enjoy living in a castle and using the weapons and instruments they get to use on the show is delightful. As KPD says, this is the first reality show that it seems might be fun to be on.

In any case, I’m now completely invested, to the point that when that one guy I hated was sent home, I couldn’t believe how happy I was.

So my question is, why didn’t I know that this was a thing? Sure, i don’t watch regular TV, but why weren’t all my geeky friends watching this? Did ABC completely fail? What happened? Because this show is binge-watching heaven.

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