In Defense of Jericho


I’ve had this post in my head for a long time. I’m a fan of the CBS show Jericho, about a small Kansas town after a limited nuclear attack on the US, including an EMP.

I read Survival Blog and learn a lot from it, but there have been a couple of posts critical of Jericho, which rubbed me a little wrong.

I don’t think all the critism has come directly from Mr Rawles, so I’m going to refer to the posters as they.

First they’ve be critical of the women wearing cosmetics even weeks into the show. My first thought was: “Its a TV show. Makeup is never realistic in a TV show.” Also how long will cosmetics last? I asked the Mrs how long she could go with out having to buy cosmetics. She estimated over a month, and even then it wouldn’t me all cosmetics. You’d run out of base faster than mascara for instance. Also Jericho had at least one store that carried cosmetics, so women could have stocked up. And how many Mary Kay consultants are there in a small town with a years supply of makeup? Same goes for men shaving. I could go at least 3 months without having to resupply with blades or shaving cream. And I don’t need hot water to shave.

The second thing they were critical of was no one went around openly armed. My first thought was most people, even in small town Kansas, won’t feel the need for open carry right away. This is related to my next point, so I won’t go in depth into why. Also Jericho’s government and police force didn’t disappear right after the blasts. They had excellent leadership that helped them stay calm, or at least calmed them down quickly. While us gun nuts might like to open carry, it isn’t a requirement. I’d feel just as safe concealed as not in my own home town where I know most of the people. Many people would see open carry as provocation, so why not keep it a secret.

Third criticism, was the people kept wasting gas and other precious supplies even weeks after the blast and EMP. “Their behavior is irrational and rational begins when the power goes out and the food starts to rot in the fridge, which is when the EMPs hit.” The question here is how long does it take for someone to switch to a survival mindset. Most of us live with an expectation that things aren’t as bad as they seem. People think something will come along and fix things, probably because that’s what parents do. So it takes a while for people to realize things have really and truly changed and won’t get any better in the foreseeable future. I don’t think that happens as soon as an EMP hits. Most people don’t even know what an EMP is and would think it was temporary. I mean you computer breaks down, the power goes out, and it eventually comes back on.

So taking weeks to realize this to me isn’t that crazy. And it doesn’t happen at the same rate for everyone, just like on Jericho. The mayor’s election turned out the be about this, the do it nows verses those who wanted to wait.

Fourth thing that got under my skin was:

Come on! America has just been nuked back to 19th Century technology and population levels, yet they seem oh-so concerned with who is dating who.

This was the most ridiculous criticism I’ve heard. In the worst of human experiences, humans still cared a great deal about mating. Jericho is not in the worst of condition. Those broken relationships in the show, the ones that existed before the show started and weren’t that big of a deal, suddenly are put into perspective after the fall of civilization. Cheating on your wife in modern America is emotionally painful and may cause some problems. Cheating on your wife in a survival situation can be fatal for someone.

Stuff I Agree With Him On

One thing I think Jericho reinforces that Rawlings teaches is geographical isolation. Jericho is in the middle of no where and therefore has avoided the worst of mauraders and refugees. They’ve only had organized bandits once in the form of the Ravenwood mercenaries and they wouldn’t have even had that if they hadn’t led them there.

I’d also like to know where they are getting water. Without electrical power to run pumps, how do they get water to their water tower. They seem to have a river of some kind – there’s a bridge over it.

Jericho’s Real Strength

In survivalism circles there is a real focus on individual and small group survival. You, your family, maybe a few friends. Jericho is about a small town trying to make it. More than trying to make it, trying to maintain civilization. Survivalist assume the collapse of civilization and plan for maintaining safety through force. They aren’t concerned with keeping a community in a form that will make it so people won’t steal from each other and that killing your neighbor isn’t OK. That’s what Jericho is about.

I’m looking forward to seeing how you rebuild civilization after an EMP knocks modern technology back 150 years. We have the knowledge to do lots of things, how long does it take us to get the basics taken care of so people can start working on rebuilding infrastructure? How long before they are ready to rebuild a power grid? Start manufacturing medicine, ammo, fuel? Can they do that in the middle of Kansas?

That’s going to be fascinating stuff.