Netflix's latest new reality TV show feels like something out of 30 Rock. You know, how Alec Baldwin's character Jack Donaghy would pitch Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) on a shameless new unscripted series? That's the vibe we get from Snowflake Mountain.
Or maybe the folks behind Snowflake Mountain (which just arrived on Netflix on Wednesday, June 22) would just call us easily-offended millennials. It's hard to tell, really.
Just start episode 1, and you'll see. In rapid-fire succession, Snowflake Mountain introduces its 10 contestants, each more annoying than the one before. Each proudly declares their unique qualifications.
And these traits, if you'd call them that, seem to be positioned to annoy the heck out of everyone involved. No matter your point of view, you'll find something to be upset about. Maybe that's the point, too.
What is Snowflake Mountain?
Snowflake Mountain, a 10-episode reality TV series comes from two experts in the field: Jo Harcourt-Smith (The Circle) and Cal Turner (Undercover Boss). And it's all about annoying youths, who we meet in an intro that almost feels like a test of your patience.
One parties "24/7," another dropped out of college and another admits (after being shamed by her parents into it) that her first instincts always push her to quit what she's trying. Another outright says "I don't take life seriously," before another introduces themselves as being "naturally lazy."
One after another of these stereotypes of young folks today declares that doing household chores is above them. And their parents are just fed up of these kids, who the hosts describe as "giant babies." But since these 'snowflakes' seem to be the bane of their parents' existences, this series is trying to do something about it.
Hosts Joel (who equates his career to the film The Hurt Locker) and Matt (a former Army combat engineer) are supposed survival experts who bring "snowflakes" into a wilderness retreat. The intro to the show previews tons of tears that the contestants will cry, and how they'll both succeed and fail and constantly be annoying (at least in this elder millennial's eyes).
Netflix's official description provided to the press states that "Snowflake Mountain is a funny, warm-hearted reality show," but if and when you sample it, you might be curious where the "warm-hearted" part is. (More on that below.)
Oh, and the cast are trying to win "a transformative cash prize" by enduring this life without running water, Wi-Fi and the help of their parents.
What do the critics think of Snowflake Mountain?
Unsurprisingly, critics don't like Snowflake Mountain. The series, which doesn't have a Rotten Tomatoes score at the time of production due to lack of coverage (a sign that Netflix may not have pushed screeners out), has gotten all thumbs way-down from most.
For example, Stuart Heritage of The Guardian notes that hidden under this facade is a series with some emotional depth, as "neither the snowflakes nor the mentors are quite as two-dimensional as they seem," but it's unfortunately "hidden behind an exhausting sheen of red state/blue state division." And he also notes that if the show had been handled with "even a modicum less kneejerk, kids-these-days, God-help-us-if-there’s-a-war grouchiness, Snowflake Mountain would be far more enjoyable to watch."
At the Chicago Sun Times, Richard Roeper writes (in a review rated two stars out of four) that "This is one of the more contrived series of the ever-expanding reality genre, featuring a bevy of contestants who aren’t nearly as interesting as they believe themselves to be."
For the Telegraph, Michael Hogan held no punches, writing "Churning out this sort of mediocre menu-filler, it’s small wonder the streaming service is in trouble. Who’s going to pay £11-plus per month for generic junk they can already get on ITV2? Fewer Snowflake Mountains and more Strangers Things please. Or I’ll cry and quit like a true snowflake."
Analysis: Should you watch Snowflake Mountain?
When discussing this series in a private group chat, one friend of mine said "I’ll probably watch it if I’m honest." While another said "I'm curious in a car wreck kinda way." I told them both that the opening should be enough to push them away.
Snowflake Mountain doesn't seem like it's made for either side of the culture war divide it's targeting. The left will likely bristle at the caricaturist contestants, and the right will likely roll their eyes at the emotional bonding in the show's latter half. For my money, if I'm looking for new mindless entertainment, Beavis and Butt-Head Do The Universe is right there on Paramount Plus.
The top of Netflix's top 10 shows list often seems to feature something that critics hate (the 365 Days movies and God's Favorite Idiot, for example), so I kind of expect Snowflake Mountain to sit pretty right beneath Stranger Things by the end of this week. But while that feels inevitable, it also seems like a terrible indicator of what passes for culture these days.
While I found that I actually liked some of Netflix's other reality TV fare — Is It Cake? achieves a certain mindless mode perfectly — this doesn't feel like a show I could ever recommend to someone. And that's coming from someone who watches pro wrestling.