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Reality TV Goes High Fantasy in Disney+’s ‘The Quest’

Why didn't they have this when we were kids?!

Players and actors in Disney+'s reality series 'The Quest'

Reality television is, in a sense, its own fantasy genre. Eager contestants compete in challenges of survival, romance, and treasure hunting, hoping for riches, true love, and a fairy tale ending (or at least enough C-list fame to hock detox tea on TikTok). Whether you’re a Bachelorette or an American Ninja Warrior, participants in these shows are playing into a certain adolescent wish fulfillment. So it’s hardly a surprise that Disney+ is taking the genre to its logical endpoint with a fully immersive high fantasy LARPing competition series.

The synopsis for the series reads, “For thousands of years, Everealm has been a land of unrivaled beauty and powerful magic. Now, the realm is threatened by a powerful evil Sorceress. As a last hope, the noble Fates summon eight strangers known as Paladins from a world beyond to work together to fulfill an ancient prophecy and vanquish the Sorceress. The Paladins must unlock the hero within through a series of challenges that push their limits to restore balance to Everealm. If they fail, all will be lost. Heroes will rise. Kingdoms will fall.”

The Quest is LARPing on a big budget, and if the trailer is any indication, the series is raising the bar for fully immersive reality television. The production value is very impressive, and the series boasts producers from shows/films like The Lord of the Rings, The Amazing Race, and Queer Eye. The Quest will feature unscripted challenges within the setting of a scripted narrative, a unique choice that enhances the immersive nature of the series. Producers Jane Fleming and Mark Ordesky described the series saying, “We’re doing something magical that has never been done at this level. We’re taking real people and putting them in a fully realized fantasy story, conceived and built by incredible artisans in every department. It’s an immersive, real-life hero’s journey for these eight normal teenagers, who transform before your very eyes. It’s an exciting new form of storytelling.”

Executive producers Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster added, “What makes ‘The Quest’ so unique is that it’s a true hybrid of scripted and reality, … It’s a groundbreaking new genre where we place real teenagers in a reality competition and bring them into a fully realized fantasy world that is built on a scripted mythology of intrigue and adventure played out alongside actors for a completely immersive experience.”

If The Quest sounds familiar, that’s because this is technically the second season of the series. The Quest premiered in 2014 on ABC, where it featured adult competitors. Despite attaining a cult fandom, the show was canceled after one season.

I love to be a cynic, but this series looks absolutely adorable. I mean, a Legends of the Hidden Temple for nerdy, fantasy-loving teens? I know I’m not the only adult who would have loved something like this as a child. We truly are living in the golden age of nerdery.

The Quest debuts on Disney+ on May 11.

(via Collider, image: Disney+)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.