There aren't many shows on TV like History's survival competition Alone. The show invites tough guys and gals from all around the globe to be dropped in the middle of the wilderness with one rule: don't die! Whoever succeeds the longest without getting choppered out of the woods wins half a million dollars and, better yet, bragging rights over everyone else who just spent the last week on the couch. Its ruggedness has helped it become a cult hit, and now that Alone Season 8 premiered on Thursday, June 3 on History Channel, now's a good time to get excited for more people shoving common sense out of the way.
But until the next episode of Alone Season 8 comes out, what should you watch? I helicoptered into the remote fringes of the streamingverse for shows that are like Alone, whether they be harsh competitions featuring amateurs or educational survival shows hosted by trained professionals. Sharpen that pocketknife, tie that squirrel trap, and grab a handful of tasty moss, because we've got seven shows for fans of Alone.
The granddaddy of survival shows is Survivorman, which ran on various networks from 2004 to 2015, and really kicked off the wave of people being dropped into certain-death situations for our entertainment. Survival expert Les Stroud is plopped into locations from Canada's unforgiving snowscape to Australia's skin-boiling outback in each episode, with a specific survival situation to get through. It was particularly notable for being one of the first shows in which the subject is also responsible for filming themselves -- which Alone borrows from -- really emphasizing true lone survival. Though a crew would follow him at a distance, he was essentially solo. Stroud would later turn Survivorman into a Bigfoot-hunting show for $ome rea$on, but the early seasons are still some of the best survival television out there. [Watch on Pluto TV (free), Discovery+]
A direct F.U. to the hit Survivor, Out of the Wild's third season took nine regular people with little or no survival experience and left them to fend for themselves in the rocky wilds of Venezuela. There were no staged challenges, no eliminations or immunity idols, and no host welcoming them to a tribal ceremony. Starting with very little, the team simply had to get from one point to another, with several checkpoints for supplies and camps in between. It just happened that those "points" were across remote rocky terrain or on steep cliffsides where one slip would mean a deadly fall. The inexperience of the participants provides more danger than other survival shows -- turns out being an office manager doesn't help much when you get hypothermia -- and more than half of the original nine bounce before the final destination is reached nearly a month later. Season 3 is the only season readily streaming, but Season 2 is similar to Season 3 but set in Alaska, and Season 1 features four teams of 10. [Watch on Discovery+]
While Alone focuses on a single person against the brutal elements that Ma Nature throws at them, 2020's Win the Wilderness -- the newest addition to survival TV -- takes couples to the Alaskan wilderness where they compete against five other couples in survival challenges. It's much more of a traditional reality competition series than Alone, but it has a cool prize: The winners will inherit a gorgeous three-story house, airstrip, guest cabin, and greenhouse that is 100 miles from the nearest road in Alaska. Current owners Duane and Rena Ose, the real stars of the show who built the hermetic property on their own but can no longer maintain it now that they're in their 70s, will bequeath the place to whichever couple they deem is most deserving. One thing that differentiates Win the Wilderness from other shows is that you get to see various survival tactics in action, as each couple has their own strengths, weaknesses, and knowledge, but no one here is in real danger. [Watch on Netflix]
If you can stand the fact that sometimes Bear Grylls isn't exactly as remote or in danger as he says he is, any one of Grylls' many, many shows will fit your hunger for more of Alone. But if you want to test your own ability to survive in the wild, Grylls' interactive Netflix series You vs. Wild is a unique twist on the genre that lets viewers make the life-or-death situations for Grylls. You vs. Wild sees Grylls set out to different remote locations to complete missions, and like Black Mirror's Bandersnatch, when Grylls gets to a point where he can make a decision -- does he eat some raw shellfish for sustenance, for example -- you press a button on your TV remote to pick one of two options. The fun part of this is that you can intentionally make Grylls injure himself or get sick while also learning a thing or two about how to handle certain situations. This is for survival show rookies. [Watch on Netflix]
If Alone is just too lonely for you, check out Discovery's Dual Survival, which pits TWO dudes against the wilderness. The conceit is much different from Alone though, as the two participants -- who change from season to season -- are survival experts with varying approaches to not dying, and there's no competition... except with each other. Each episode presents them with a new location to survive in, and Dual Survival excels at teaching you different methods to survive anything, with multiple options from the two guys' opposing ideologies. Dual Survival is what you watch to prepare to go on Alone. (You are going to try out for Alone, aren't you?) [Watch on Pluto TV (free), Hulu, Discovery+]
There may not be an Alone without the success of Discovery Channel's Naked and Afraid franchise, a series that took television by storm when it debuted in 2013... because people were naked in it. In each episode, the extreme survival series drops a pair of strangers in the wild with nothing -- and I mean nothing -- except their will to survive, a single helpful item, and their bare butts for 21 days. After becoming a hit, Naked and Afraid expanded the franchise with Naked and Afraid XL, which brought back veterans of the series in groups of 12 or so to survive for 40 days and 40 nights together for an entire season. XL is more reminiscent of Survivor, without the silly games, whereas you can drop in and out of Naked and Afraid as each episode is self-contained (unlike the contestants). [Watch Naked and Afraid on Discovery+, Hulu] [Watch Naked and Afraid XL on Discovery+, Hulu]
Oh sure, these contestants on Alone can handle two to three months in the wilderness, but what about living in the merciless outdoors for your entire life? History's Mountain Men is part of the ever-growing "interesting people living in insane places" (or "insane people living in interesting places") programming, following various people who live in remote places like Alaska, Montana, Maine, and elsewhere, to see how they cope with their day-to-day lives while storms and predators bear down on them. It's less about the minute-by-minute challenge of surviving with very little, and more about months and months of surviving in the mountains. Possible bonus: There are some impressively gross beards in this show. [Watch on Pluto TV (free), Hulu, Discovery+]