The nine participants on TBS' intriguing (if naturally messed-up) new reality series "Lost Resort" have come to a jungly Costa Rican retreat center to work on themselves, unpack their bags (literally and figuratively) and see if they can find the balance deep within. True happiness, as viewers know, is universally impossible to achieve on a reality show -- a big diamond engagement ring is never the nirvana one hoped it would be. Even the nation's biggest reality star, President Donald Trump, exists in a winning hell of his own making.
Still, this resort seems like a wonderful place to at least award some points for trying. These days, I'll watch just about anything that seems to veer in the slightest from so much else that has already aired. And let's face it -- we're so starved for vacation travel these days that just the word "resort" deserves at least a longing glance.
Where a reality show usually tries to encourage people to play up their faults, "Lost Resort" (which premiered Thursday) makes an initially honest go at looking for spiritual, healthy solutions to overcoming those traits. If it all went swimmingly, there'd be no show here to watch, so fear not -- before long, one of the subjects lets loose with this gem: "Those bes better come at me with positive energy!"
The participants -- six women and three men who range from mid-20s to early 50s in age -- each arrive with problems galore and guarded emotions. Claudia, who lives in Miami Beach, says she has been married four times, engaged six times and proposed to nine times -- an Algebra problem first, but more importantly, an indicator of her lack of self-worth, which she attributes to childhood trauma.
The show's camera hogs, Robin and Christine, are a mother and daughter from Dallas, whose constant bickering dangerously verges on permanent contempt, attributable to Robin's selfish pursuit of husbands and Christine's resentment. Greg, whose issues stem from work stress and a past addiction problem, feels like a failure after his restaurant in Missouri closed down. Thea is here to work on her broken marriage and infidelity problems; her husband, Brandon, should be along any minute now, as soon as he can get a break from work. Becca, a Lutheran pastor from Philadelphia, is having a crisis of faith, triggered in part by the loss of her infant son.
Meco survived the 2019 mass shooting at a festival in Gilroy, Calif., and also carries deep-seated feelings of abandonment. She gets the role of "Lost Resort's" stubborn skeptic, believing she was coming to a luxury spa retreat and not at all eager to participate in rage rituals, vulnerability circles and sessions of ecstatic dancing. "It's just not my vibe," she says.
That's a disappointment to "Lost Resort's" four healers, who are guided by retreat leader Chrissie Fire Mane, who has an expertise in shamanic psychotherapy and lays out three steps for her retreat participants: identify their wounds, cleanse the wounds and thereby gain empowerment over them. "Lost Resort" giddily makes way for potential conflicts among the healers, each of whom come from different disciplines (sound and movement healing, meditation, orgasmic dance). Egos are soon wounded.
The ingredients are all here and the producers, whose credits include "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" and "Queer Eye," know exactly how to edit the proceedings into raw displays of human nature. The woo-woo nature of the therapeutics isn't mocked, but there are enough sideways glances and awkward pauses for "Lost Resort" to fail as a means for promoting New Age beliefs and practices.
The vicarious experience of watching the show can be somewhat entertaining, but it quickly becomes obvious that TV cameras are the last thing you want in a vulnerability circle that aims for catharsis. It's hard to tell if the scream therapy is legitimate, or if it's just one more way for the television to scream at us.
10 p.m. Thursday