Has reality television gone too far?
It might have in the Czech Republic, where a new reality show produced by Czech Television will dial the clock back to 1939 to follow a real-life contemporary family as they are placed in a re-creation of WWII conditions in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
The program, set to premiere this weekend, was filmed in the summer of 2014 as a rural farmland was transformed into a WWII-era homestead.
The real-life family – selected through a process of “rigorous audition” – was subjected to the stress of life under Nazi rule, with rationing of food and basic necessities. Actors in costume played German soldiers and Gestapo guards.
While the family won’t be subjected to the actual horrors that victims of WWII faced, they’ll win a valuable prize if they can survive the two-month ordeal.
Expectedly, Dovolená v Protektorátu (Holiday in the Protectorate) has drawn heavy criticism before it has even made the airwaves.
In the Czech Republic, where mandatory license fees for TV owners fund state-run Czech Television, viewers are voicing their outrage over internet message boards.
“What’s next? Big Brother Auschwitz?” writes one infuriated viewer, reported by Blesk.
“This is a perversion,” writes another. “It’s an insult to those who really suffered through it.”
In the same article, series creator Zora Cejnková defends the program. “The entire production team is aware of the controversy about returning to such a precarious period,” she says.
“However, we think that while maintaining specific ethical rules and historical accuracy, this is an appropriate way of presenting the period.”
The series has already made international headlines, with The Telegraph reporting on the controversy the show has stirred.
Dovolená v Protektorátu is set to premiere on May 23, 2015. More information about the program is available on the Czech Television website (in Czech).