Doomsday Preppers

If the folks on Doomsday Preppers are right, the revolution will not, in fact, be televised. Nor will it look too much like Revolution, at least for those stuck in large urban areas. "If there's a disaster scenario in New York, there's no good solution to getting out and surviving," says executive producer Alan Madison. That doesn't mean there's no point in trying, though. And so for Tuesday's episode (9/8c, National Geographic Channel), Madison took three New York preppers and had them execute their escape plans — commonly referred to as "bug-out plans" on the show — with a little help from some mentors. Madison talked with TV Guide Magazine about the episode.

TV Guide Magazine: What are the challenges in doing a New York prepper episode?
Alan Madison: Obviously, going to a rural setting and having the run of the place is very different than shooting in New York. And just getting a plan to escape New York and finding three preppers who were diverse in every way shape and form, from a socioeconomic level, to their disaster scenario, was very difficult.

TV Guide Magazine: One of the preppers in this episode is prepping for a major hurricane, but you shot this months before Sandy hit.
Alan Madison: It was totally prescient. She's almost like a Cassandra, seeing the hurricane hit New York. Her depiction of understanding how lower Manhattan would be flooded and how she would have to travel through the center of the island, it was all really interesting. It's scary, but I guess that's the best part of my job: We highlight end-of-the-world preppers so that the day-to-day preppers can learn stuff. And that's the bigger picture for our show. I think that's why a lot of our preppers even participate.

TV Guide Magazine: Did Sandy's direct hit change anything in the episode?
Alan Madison: We tweaked some of the voiceover to reflect that Sandy had occurred. Hurricane Sandy made it more immediate, not more relevant. The prepper movement is a continuum that started with 9/11, through Hurricane Katrina, through the financial collapse. Last year was the tsunami in Japan that made it more immediate. And this year it's Sandy that made it more immediate, more close to home. So the people in California were thinking about radiation from Fukushima, but people in New York were not thinking about that. And in this day and age, with this level of communication, and at our level of technology and population density, every year there's going to be another event that makes prepping relevant slash immediate.

TV Guide Magazine: What would your escape plan be?
Alan Madison: I would probably hunker down until the immediate rush died down. I personally don't think there's any way to escape Manhattan in an emergency. It's going to be a total disaster.

TV Guide Magazine: One of the other preppers is trying to escape to a stronghold in the Hamptons. Is that really a good idea?
Alan Madison: It depends on the disaster. I do have mixed feelings about it. It has its strengths in terms of being easily cut off from the rest of Manhattan and easily defensible, I think that's a good thing. Obviously in a tsunami it would not be a good thing. So like most places, it has its pros and cons. Like everything in the prepper world, it's an option. You do the cost-benefit analysis for each disaster scenario. And that's why we try to find a diversity of scenarios. In this episode you have a meltdown at Indian Point versus a hurricane versus a terrorist attack; all different scenarios, all different equations, all equally plausible. And a meltdown at Indian Point, I mean, everyone in the city knows, you can't evacuate — there's no plausible way to evacuate eight million people from this city. When I show up to a location in the rest of the country, the preppers treat me literally like a dead man walking.

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