Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Karl Puschmann: Doomsday bunkum making me paranoid

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Nothing quite as terrifying as a terrified — gun-loving — American.
The Deep Earth Bunkers team are essential for keeping your family safe when the world's out to get you.
The Deep Earth Bunkers team are essential for keeping your family safe when the world's out to get you.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I need to tell you that the world is coming to an end. Sorry to bum out your Friday.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. Society is on the cusp of collapse and soon everyone you know will be reduced to violent savagery as they attempt to survive the coming apocalypse.

We are, to put it bluntly, f***ed. It's all a bit of a downer, really.

I only became aware of our looming grim future after watching Doomsday Bunkers on Netflix. Before episode one I was living a happily ignorant life. But now, at the conclusion of season one, I'm deathly afraid. Of solar flares. Of the terrorists. Of the barbaric evil lurking there just beneath the deceptive veneer of your fragile civility ...

Some old American dude said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," and boy, was that cat right on the money. Having sat through all three hours of Doomsday Bunkers fear is now the thing I'm afraid of most.

Not my own. I'm all good. But other people's. Because if there's one thing I've learned from Doomsday Bunkers it's that fearful people are crazy people. And when batshiz crazy people own many automatic weapons ... well, that is truly scary.

On the surface Doomsday Bunkers is a harmless American Chopper clone. The only difference being that instead of following a family company making high-end custom motorcycles for rich types, it follows a family company making high-end, custom underground bunkers for paranoid loons.

At the start of each episode Scott Bales and his Deep Earth Bunkers team listen to the specific safety concerns of their client before designing and building a bunker tailored to combat their exact fears.

There's the granny that fears nuclear fallout, the family man who fears marauding rape gangs, a couple fearful of the power grid going down and a neo-Nazi whose biggest fear appears to be not having a bunker.

Okay, there's a chance that last guy might not be a neo-Nazi. But he does rock a skinhead, his urban survival company is called 88 Tactical and its logo is a blood red imperial eagle.

I'll admit that I could be way off here. Dude could just be a balding patriot who really likes America's freedom eagle and named his urban survival training company after the year his kid was born. If I sound paranoid it's only because I've sat through three hours of Doomsday Bunkers. The show has that sort of effect ...

Neo-Nazi or not the guy sure knows how to order an underground bunker; three bedrooms, full bathroom with shower, a plasma TV in the lounge (yes, lounge) and a $400,000 invoice from Bales.

Flash as it was I bet he was gutted though when he saw the chap who had ordered a "tactical bunker", complete with booby trap spikes and a working flamethrower built right into the staircase handrail. Essential for keeping your family safe, I'm sure you'll agree.

As well as the luxurious and the lethal we also see the construction of a barebones bunker. An older gent had ordered a one-room box to cower in with his wife when it all hits the fan. Being new to the prepping game he made a rookie and potentially fatal mistake of not ordering the periscope upgrade. Without which he has no way of seeing if the coast is clear from the sanctuary of his bunker. Dude's as good as dead if you ask me ...

No matter which specific fear the preppers had they were all unified by two things. Their wild-eyed obsession with their paranoid delusions and a lip-smacking devotion to their guns.

Without exception they all owned a lot of guns. Without exception they all hoped to never use them. Again, it could be my Doomsday Bunkers-induced paranoia talking but I was highly dubious of this claim.

Throughout the show all the preppers lovingly cradled their military grade weapons. They all got visibly excited when talking about "doing whatever they had to do" to "protect" their loved ones.

They smiled as they shot their guns. They smiled as they taught their kids how to shoot their guns. They smiled as they talked about the apocalypse. It was apparent they couldn't wait for the end of the world.

Well, you gotta be prepared, I suppose. And you gotta be afraid. That's really the big takeaway from Doomsday Bunkers.

It doesn't matter what you're afraid of. The important thing is that you're afraid of something and that you let that fear consume every fibre of your being to the point where spending $150,000 on an underground bunker is the only thing on this earth that will ever give you "peace of mind".

- NZ Herald

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Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

A pop culture junkie, Karl has spent his career writing about the important things in life; music, film, television, comics and video games. He was editor of a popular music rag for five years and has since written regularly for every local culture/arts/lifestyle magazine worth a damn. His recent expansion into travel writing has flung him far, far from the comfort of his couch and into that bewildering place known as the ‘outdoors’. He is also currently endeavouring to make sense of the world by reviewing it over at critikarlreviewstheworld.com

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