A new Netflix reality show’s goal is to see how easily people can be manipulated into committing murder. Host of “The Push," Derren Brown, calls himself a psychological illusionist. In the trailer for the show, he says, “The question we’re asking is simple: Can we be manipulated through social pressure to commit murder?”
The show was unveiled on Tuesday, CNET reported, and Netflix said that on the show, “Brown exposes the psychological secrets of obedience and social compliance. He expertly lifts the lid on the terrifying truth that, when confronted with authority, our natural instinct is to unflinchingly obey without question—to such an extent that even the most moral people can be made to commit the most horrendous acts, simply because they are told to do so."
It appears that the show, or at least its first season, will center around a contestant who Brown claims is unaware he is being filmed. He is then roped into a stressful situation with the help of 70 actors. The situation’s goal? To manipulate the contestant to push an old man off a building.
“I need him to feel like there’s only one way out when he’s told to commit murder,” Brown says in the trailer.
A story from The Verge responded to the new show and to Brown’s bold statement, writing, “That’s an interesting use of the word ‘need,’ since I’m not sure that anyone actually ‘needs’ to see a real person pushed to the most debased extremes. The show audaciously claims that this is some sort of valuable sociological experiment, one designed to explore whether or not human beings are willing to commit terrible acts when they are told that they have no other choice.”
The Verge compared the show’s thesis to a controversial social experiment in the 1960s. Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram used an actor in a white lab coat to instruct the study's male participants to administer lethal doses of electricity to an unseen person (another actor). According to The Verge, two-thirds of the participants went through with the electrocution merely because the man asked them to do it. Milgram’s experiments were inspired by the horrific acts that “ordinary” people committed in Nazi Germany.
“The Push” originally aired in the UK two years ago under a different title, "Derren Brown: Pushed To The Edge." In 2011, Brown created another show, which was equally murderous, called "The Assassin," in which he hypnotized someone to try to convince them to murder actor and writer Stephen Fry.
The show will be available on February 27.