Derren Brown’s latest offering went straight to Netflix this time and three days after watching it I’m still thinking about it.
The Push is a psychlogical experiment conducted by Derren Brown which sees a subject manipulated into pushing a man off a building.
The concept sounds ridiculous when it’s first presented but as the show goes on we see just how easy it is to get people to do what their told.
Stripping it back to the casting of the unwitting subjects we first see how simple it is to get someone to do something with a cafe worker taking away a baby because a voice on the end of the phone tells him to. Then in the casting day we see the main contestant Chris compiles with a group of people standing up and sitting down without any reason. It’s a simple test but shows he will do things without questioning.
A highly eleborate situation is set up where Chris will be lead into a place where he’ll be asked to push a man off the building. The not so subtle leading includes a charity night for a charity called ‘Push’ which had the tagline ‘Whatever it takes.’ The stakes are high and Chris is forced to go along with covering up the death of a man and impersonating him.
Social experiments like this can sometimes feel very paint by numbers as the subjects seem unusually compliant and you’re left wondering if this would really happen to any normal person. However here with Chris we watch him slowly reclaim his independence even after he’s gone about hiding a dead body he refuses to take the ultimate plunge.
Push is ultimately fascinating in the same way serial killer documentries are. As we discover what ‘pushes’ a person to kill, here we see people deemed relatively normal put in a situation where they a forced to kill except Chris chooses not to. It truly is riveting.
And then we see three other subjects, shown early during the casting day scene actually push a man off a roof in the belief that could actually murder him. This shocking twists leaves us reeling and then there’s nothing else. Three out of the four people commit the murder, even Chris was close to it at the end, a seemingly ridiculous premise suddenly looks veey real.
Although everything is stripped away and we see Chris discover that his ordeal was simply for entertainment purposes, the knowledge he went along with impersonation, hiding a dead body and forgery. There are no indepth interviews with Chris or the other contestants that went onto to kill the man, no insights into their psyche.
So this means that Derren Brown’s Push is an interesting, shocking and enjoyable show it’s designed to prove a theory abut social compliance entirely instead of looking into any common factors between the four contestants. Because without looking too deeply into them it makes the audience wonder, if these people can commit murder then you can as well .