Snowflake Mountain: Netflix reality show braves the culture wars

The bones of the new Netflix series Snowflake Mountain are as old as time. It’s a reality show about adversity, where a gang of ill-equipped people are dragged out into the wilderness and forced to fend for themselves. It’s SAS: Who Dares Wins. It’s I’m a Celebrity. It’s The Island with Bear Grylls, or Eden, or Naked and Afraid, or quite possibly that terrible-sounding new Squid Game competition. You’ve seen versions of it before, and you will continue to see versions of it until the end of time.

So how does Snowflake Mountain attempt to differentiate itself from the pack? Bene, questo è 2022 così, with an inevitability thudding enough to pulverise your bones, it has chosen to hurl itself two-footed into the culture wars.

It’s called Snowflake Mountain, for crying out loud. This is where we are as a civilisation now. A series about pampered and over-emotional young people – some of whom have the temerity to take selfies, or live with their parents, or own laptops – being dragged out into the middle of nowhere seemingly against their will, and all for the benefit of a paying audience tacitly egged on to scream “NOT SO WOKE NOW, ARE YOU?” at their screens whenever one of them reacts badly to their surroundings. In terms of utter dystopia, it isn’t quite The Running Man, but it isn’t all that far off either.

As with most shows of this ilk, the bulk of the heavy lifting is done in the first couple of episodes. That’s where we meet the contestants at their most insufferable. Some are would-be influencers, others are would-be party girls. One in particular is introduced with a clip of his mother literally placing a golden crown on his head. As they come to realise what the show asks of them, the contestants universally begin to whine, and this whining grows in volume and intensity until the moment where – and this is a real part of the show – all their suitcases get gratuitously exploded in front of them.

This sequence is Snowflake Mountain in microcosm. The exploders are Joel Graves and Matt Tate, two men who spent some time in the military and now scream things like “Mother nature is the queen of tough love!” at anyone who doesn’t happen to share their calloused, thousand-yard-stare worldviews. As the ostensible mentors in the show, it’s their job to force the contestants through extended bouts of suffering, while constantly reminding them that it’s all for their own good.

Certo, none of it is real. As the series wears on, you quickly come to realise that neither the snowflakes nor the mentors are quite as two-dimensional as they seem. The contestants quickly adapt to their new situation, and the mentors become reliable shoulders to cry on. They climb a mountain together. They look after some chickens together. They have what basically amounts to group therapy sessions together, anche. It’s all very evolved. Il problema è, this stuff is hidden behind an exhausting sheen of red state/blue state division.

Which raises the question: Oms, Esattamente, is Snowflake Mountain for? It isn’t for wet-handed liberals, who’ll understandably find themselves being riled up by the way the show caricatures and patronises Gen Z. And it isn’t for the conservative Fox News chuckleheads either, because they’ll invariably find themselves repulsed by the scenes where the contestants are encouraged to care for living things and explore their feelings. And it isn’t for anyone else, because they’ll just see the words ‘Snowflake Mountain’ on a Netflix submenu and realise that their lives are too short to get involved with this sort of deliberately manipulative dreck.

And this is a shame. Perché, had it been treated 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. The kids on the show wouldn’t have been boiled down to their worst characteristics, the mentors wouldn’t have had to present themselves with so much insincere intolerance, and we would have got a show whose primary goal wasn’t to simply earn a day and a half of outraged engagement from the worst percentile on Twitter.

But here we are. And if the Netflix algorithm declares Snowflake Mountain to be a hit, we’re going to have even more rubbish like this shoved down our throats forever. If you tolerate Snowflake Mountain, Libtard Island will be next.

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