Reality check is the best way to describe the National Geographic Channel’s fictional what-if scenario concerning a mass power outage across the United States, titled “American Blackout.”
This faux documentary provides insight into what would happen to Americans of all different backgrounds if the power really did shut off for a long time, an event that is not so far-fetched.
The film’s focus on everyday people’s problems in a catastrophic event is a change of pace in an era where post-apocalyptic dramas such as “The Walking Dead,” “Revolution” and “World War Z” skip over the little man in favor of big-picture narratives. Where this film excels is in its effort to ignore government and social issues during a prolonged power outage and instead give more attention to the what-ifs average individuals could face. This lets viewers reflect on how they would handle such a desperate situation.
Five groups are the center of this film, all of which encounter a different set of blackout-induced obstacles. A group of college students become trapped in their dorm’s elevator, forcing them to battle claustrophobia and a lack of air for days. A wealthy young couple in a city must fend off looters, as does a family of “preppers” in the Rockies who guard their fully stocked doomsday bunker from outsiders in the blackout’s aftermath.
One small family struggles as the pregnant mother gives birth without the comforts of a functional hospital and the father goes missing while in search of medical help. Another teenager must learn to survive on his own during the panic when his single mother is stuck working her job as a nurse at a hospital running on a generator for days on end.
The biggest lesson in “American Blackout” is that the most crucial goods and services that citizens have access to, such as running water, charged batteries and basic health care, are severely taken for granted by most people. The possibility of a blackout or other disruptive event happening is very real.
To increase the chances of surviving, “American Blackout” suggests, people should take simple measures such stocking up on food and supplies, and avoiding getting caught up in the hysteria that results during a catastrophe.
Brett Montana can be reached at email@example.com.