Netflix reveals disturbing new reality show

Commentary: "The Push" tries to see if social pressure can convince someone to commit murder.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Capable of murder?

Netflix/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

We're all weak and we all have a dark side.

Sometimes, it seems as if reality TV was created specifically to mine those two characteristics.

A new show unveiled Tuesday by Netflix , however, pushes the boundaries on human frailty. 

Called "Derren Brown: The Push I," it aims to see if an ordinary, but no doubt carefully selected, member of humanity can allow themselves to be manipulated into committing murder.

Naturally, the murder isn't real. 

However, the events leading up to it are played out by actors in a convincing way, so that the unsuspecting protagonist believes it's real.

I conclude this because the show originally aired in the UK two years ago, under the title "Derren Brown: Pushed To The Edge."

Then, it received fascinated reviews, with some not being able to decide whether this was all pure entertainment or something with a serious core.

Brown is well-known in the UK as something of a hypnotist and illusionist. 

"The Push" isn't even his first attempt at twisting someone into committing murder. In 2011, he created a show called "The Assassin," in which he hypnotized someone to try to kill actor and writer Stephen Fry. 

Fry is still alive. (He was in on the plot.)

Not everyone is convinced of Brown's powers. In 2003, for example, his claim to have used live ammunition in a TV Russian roulette stunt was debunked by police.

Moreover, some might wonder whether a show about real people being twisted into committing murder is the sort of thing America might enjoy right now, given its somewhat tense state.

Netflix didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The company did insist on YouTube that Brown "expertly lifts the lid on the terrifying truth that, when confronted with authority, our natural instinct is to unflinchingly obey without question."

The trailer, though, might make one or two people wonder how, in this apparently well-filmed show, the man being manipulated has no idea so many cameras are on him.

For his part, Brown tweeted that not only will the first show be available for worldwide streaming on February 27, but that two more shows -- one entirely new -- will follow.

If the first one involves someone being goaded into committing murder, what might the new one involve?

I'll try not to think about it.