Stories We Keep Talking About: Wild, Wild Country

In the Rebel Pilgrim office, we are people who pay attention to stories. That’s what we talk about when we’re standing around in the space between meetings or over lunch. Stories are like our weather talk-our go-to shared conversational real estate.  Sometimes they are news stories, or marketing campaigns, or local interest stories. But more often than not, they are stories we are binging, streaming worlds that we get lost in over the weekend or after the kids have gone to sleep.

These conversations are partially just a way to connect but they are also part of an ongoing investigation we are conducting about what stories work and why.

Right now, we keep returning to conversations about the documentary series on Netflix about the cult that migrated from India to Oregon in the early 80s, Wild, Wild Country.

Here are a few reasons we keep talking about this story and what we might learn about the stories we all tell:

– The series forces us to ask the big Why question of the subjects but also ourselves. Why would so many people give up the life they know for a communal life? Why would they trust another person so wholly and completely? How could they surrender their own identity for a collective one?  Also, have we done this? Are we accidentally a part of some community that costs us individual identity in return for a place to belong? Why or why not? The story makes us wait for their answers to this question in this particular case, and maybe our own.

-The whole series fits into a classic form of one people group battling another, or tribal warfare. The newbies versus the natives. The mystics against the farmers. In its own indirect way, the story they tell feels connected to the stories we have lived in the past and the story humans keep on living.

– We like stories that make us feel smarter. We like stories that teach us and tap into our curiosity. When we watch stories like this, we inevitably end up jumping down wikipedia wormholes about the Baghwan and Antelope, Oregon and salmonella. (links)

-Bonus: SInce so many people are watching the show and have strong emotional reactions to it, we are able to argue about the essential elements of the show like this crucial question: Did the creators make the right font choice?