Discovery’s latest reality show seems to be the age-old answer to the problem of solving partisan inaction among America’s legislators: sending one senator each from both the Republican and Democratic parties to hash out their problems on a deserted island. Of course, they will also have to work together if they want to stay alive. That is the premise of Rival Survival, a show that stranded Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) and his colleague Senator Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) on the remote island of Eru in the Marshall Islands. For six days and nights, the pair had to team up to find water, food, and build shelter.
“This unusual pairing will leave behind the daily life of congressional staff, senate hearings and committee meetings to navigate the rigors of surviving on an isolated island with no contact with the outside world to call upon for help,” Discovery announced in a press release.
The network goes on to paint Flake and Heinrich as longtime political adversaries. In reality, the two Southwestern senators seemed to have struck up a working relationship while filming for the show. According to Entertainment Weekly, it was the senators who initially approached the network for the project. Neither are up for reelection and both stress that no public funds have been used for the show.
“Both of us know just how frustrated people are with Washington right now,” Flake and Heinrich said in a joint statement. “We can both attest that no one is more frustrated than those of us trying to get things done in this environment. We recognize how difficult it can be to cut through the partisanship. So we decided to do something completely out of the ordinary and frankly a little extreme to show the world and our colleagues that even if you have serious differences, if you want to survive you have to work together.”
Discovery is hoping that their trip to Eru will be exciting enough to grab the attention of audiences. The network said that the pair spent the majority of their time trying to find drinkable water, spearing fish, and building shelter. The two men were mostly left to their own devices, although a film crew and support staff followed them at a distance and stayed on a separate island. Thankfully, both men were experienced in the outdoors.
“It had to be somebody who could spear a fish,” Flake told The Arizona Republic. “We kept it quiet. The good thing about being back-bencher senators is you can slip away for a week.”
The Arizona Senator previously visited the Marshall Islands twice before, including spending a week alone on Jabonwod while surviving off crabs, coconuts, and fish. Flake pointed out that Heinrich also had experience as a veteran hunter and outdoorsman. Needless to say, both men survived the experience.
Rival Survival, which was produced by the same minds behind Discovery’s Naked and Afraid, will premiere Wednesday, October 29.