….Those programs fetishize a pre-technological, pre-capitalist mode of being. On each, participants often talk about their reasons for leaving civilization behind — some thoughtful, some naïve. “Utopia,” which got the ax from Fox after only two months into a planned yearlong run, included Dave, an ex-convict looking to change his life by separating himself from old influences; Bella, an earth mother scared of microwave ovens; and Red, a good ol’ boy with deep family demons.
But the real world was never far away. One of the signature tensions of “Utopia” — and there were many — was over whether the society being built on the show should mirror the one out in the real world. More often than not, it did — no one brought any Fourier to inspire something more radical.
Josh, a contractor, got plumbing and electricity up and running fairly quickly. Within weeks, there was private enterprise. Attempts at nondemocratic government systems largely flopped. Utopia, in this case, wasn’t much more than the comfort of the familiar.