- Netflix just released “The Push,” a reality TV special from UK mentalist and magician Derren Brown.
- In the special, Brown tries to see if he can manipulate someone into committing murder.
On Thursday, Netflix premiered its latest venture into reality TV, following the “Queer Eye” reboot which debuted in February. But “The Push” is a lot darker than “Queer Eye.”
“The Push,” a special that’s just over an hour, shows UK mentalist, magician, and TV star Derren Brown trying to convince someone to kill another person. “Can we be manipulated by social pressure to commit murder?” Brown asks in the trailer. The special made its original debut on Channel 4 in the UK in January 2016.
Some Netflix users were disturbed by the show’s premise when the trailer came out, and questioned whether it was real. But the show is very real, though the murder is not. Brown’s goal with “The Push” is not to actually get people to murder someone: He wants to see if it is possible to convince someone to. And if he can convince someone, what lengths would he have to go to, and who would do it?
For the special, Brown puts a man named Chris into a scenario that builds up to a point when he must decide to kill someone or not. Chris attends a charity event, and discovers he’s the only one who dressed up: something is already very strange.
A series of stranger and stranger events build up throughout the special, which lead him to a roof, where he ultimately has to decide to push someone off the building. A team of actors and make-up artists help make the scenario feel like reality for Chris.
IndieWire made an unlikely comparison that actually makes a lot of sense: Comedy Central’s “Nathan for You.” On that show, comedian Nathan Fielder uses his business background and insight to “help” struggling companies and people, frequently offering them terrible advice.
“Gathering a bunch of people together for a charity where someone has to deliver a speech and everyone’s in on it except the one person talking played out very close to the ‘Chili Shop/Massage Parlor’ episode from last year’s Season 4,” Indiewire wrote. “The biggest change here is Fielder’s deadpan voiceover explaining the various steps in the process has given way to a more earnest, devious Brown.”
But Bustle pointed out the psychological effects this manipulation can have on someone. “How does one recover from the psychological trauma of being manipulated into pushing a man off a building? Even if the subject manages to resist the peer pressure, surely the psychological toll is still great.”
Brown doesn’t see “The Push” that way.
“Within five minutes of the end happening, they were fine,” Brown told The Independent. “But it’s amazing how malleable people become. We think we’ve got these values and morals that we could never transgress, but all that goes out the window.”