When 26-year-old Rae Hume was invited to join a new reality TV show, she pictured herself partying and preening a la Love Island. Her luggage was all make-up — ‘eyeshadow palettes, contour kits, everything’ — and miniskirts, with plenty of heels.
‘All I knew is that it was a new show called something like Living Your Best Life,’ she says. ‘I packed lots of going-out clothes but secretly I hoped we might turn up and there would be a rail of stuff from Pretty Little Thing for us to choose from.’
When they arrived, the ten contestants were told to open their cases and take out essentials. ‘I just took a couple of things — but all my make-up,’ she recalls.
‘I thought we’d get the bulk of our stuff later. Maybe we were going on a nice trip.’
Rae Hume, 26, (right) was invited to take part in a new reality TV show, thinking that it would be similar to Love Island. Snowflake Mountain is Netflix’s controversial new reality show, putting pampered 20-somethings to the test
But she and the other 20-something contestants were in for a shock. They watched as the cases were loaded onto a trailer and then unceremoniously blown to pieces.
Rae was speechless. There were tears, objects — particularly from the youngster who had brought a suitcase full of Gucci and Burberry — but worse was to come. They would have to spend the next three weeks wearing only the clothes they had in their ‘essentials’ bags, and they would be camping in the wilderness, in the Lake District, for the duration, deprived of their mobile phones.
For this was no Love Island or Geordie Shore — the kind of show for which all those involved (mostly wannabe influencers with no plans for real jobs that might involve hard graft) thought they had signed up. They were instead on survival training, with no running water, no shops and absolutely zero wifi. The horror!
Welcome to Snowflake Mountain, Netflix’s controversial new reality show, which claims to offer tough love to ten 20-somethings whose own parents consider them ‘snowflakes’ — work-shy, over-sensitive, lacking in discipline, overly-dependent on their parents, unable to find the sink to wash a plate, never mind look after themselves.
The show involves two military survival types, Matt Tate and Joel Graves, teaching the contestants basic life skills
Does Love Island have you shrieking in horror at the state of the world? Then this might be the reality show for you.
‘I was speechless when I found out. I managed to laugh, but some of the others were in floods of tears,’ says Rae from Rochester, Kent. ‘I was expecting a villa with a swimming pool and maybe a hot tub. Instead I got handed an ax and they wanted me to chop down a tree.’ With her nails, too! (In true snowflake fashion, Rae is hilariously high maintenance in the nails department, too).
Some parents, such as those of pampered New Yorker Francesca, had actively pleaded with the program makers to take their obnoxious offspring (Francesca’s mother said: ‘Please just take her now’); others, such as Rae’s, were in cahoots with the team.
‘They spoke to my parents behind my back,’ reveals Rae. ‘So they knew what was happening before I did.’
I was expecting a villa with a swimming pool and a hot tub
The highly controversial show has been accused of trolling an entire generation — and simultaneously praised for finally standing up to snowflake nonsense. It involves two military survival types, Matt Tate and Joel Graves, teaching the contestants basic life skills. While you could question how many of the tasks will equip them for real life — they have to dig their own toilets, make fires and learn to skin a deer — it soon becomes apparent that some of these young adults, or ‘kidults’, have never done anything for themselves.
‘They honestly had questions about how to clean the dishes,’ says Joel, who is ex-US Navy and saw action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Eight of the first ten contestants (an 11th arrives later, in Love Island ‘bombshell’ fashion) are from the US The American contingent includes Olivia, a self-styled Disney princess, Deandra, a ‘chaos Queen’ who has been fired from every job she’s ever had, and a ‘fun employed’ guy called Solomon who spends more than £400 a week on grooming.
Not all of the young people lack ambition. Randy, for instance, aspires to be a pro-wrestler nicknamed ‘the white collar, billion-dollar, big baller, bougie brawler’.
Where does Rae fit in? Well, she is one of only two Brits — the other is Liam Brown, from Warwickshire — to be selected.
Despite being 24 when she signed up, she still lived at home. Her mum, Jane, did all her cooking and washing and lent her money to put petrol in her car. Was she a snowflake? Yes, she says.
When they arrived, at the show, the ten contestants were told to open their cases and take out essentials
‘I hold my hand up to it. I didn’t do adult life very well. I wanted to be Peter Pan. And I’m not very good at applying myself, so I’ve flitted from job to job.
‘I’ve never saved any money, despite my parents trying to make me. And I didn’t think I would ever move out of my mum and dad’s house. They still did everything for me — out of love, obviously.
‘I’m dyslexic, and a bit all over the place organization wise, so my mum would micromanage me. When I wanted to lose weight, I went to Slimming World and my mum would come, too, to write the recipes down for me.
‘I’d never really been away from them for longer than a week before. The biggest shock was that they took our phones away. We didn’t have running water either, but it was the no phones that was the shock.’
Every day, Matt and Joel set the team survival tasks designed to teach accountability, discipline and team work. Similar to I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, the contestants only eat if they pull together and complete tasks.
There are tears and tantrums. It helps, obviously, that there was a cash prize for those who stick it out: $50,000 (£41,000) for the winner but money is deducted from the final prize pot for every contestant who quits
There are tears and tantrums. It helps, obviously, that there was a cash prize for those who stick it out: $50,000 (£41,000) for the winner but money is deducted from the final prize pot for every contestant who quits, which, Rae says, ‘kind of forced us to work as a team. If you were selfish, everyone lost out’. If the contestants are ungrateful, or fail to pull their weight, they are forced to leave their tent and sleep in the open. It’s the snowflake equivalent of the naughty step.
Did it work, though? Rae insists that it did.
‘It changed my life. I learned so much about myself — that I could be a disciplined person. I grew up. I came home and moved out. I’m now living with my boyfriend. Still in the same street as my parents, granted, but I have moved out, and it’s great. I can go round now and sit and have a conversation without my mum nagging me to tidy my bedroom.
‘I actually think everyone should go through something like this. One of the mottos they taught us was “Discipline equals freedom”. I love that. I’m going to live my life by it now. I might get it tattooed.’ While she wouldn’t put herself in the ‘entitled brat’ category, she does think most people her age are snowflakes too, and her contemporaries need to get a grip.
‘I think a lot of my generation are — not every member of it. My sister is four years younger than I am, and she has always been really responsible. She got a job and stuck at it and has bought her own house, so she’s taken on our parents’ values and people like her deserve credit for it. Then there are people like me — who want to live in the moment — and I think we are in the majority!’
It changed my life. I learned so much. I grew up
Rae’s parents run a fashion stall near their home in Rochester and although she started working there in her teens, you could not say she had developed a fierce work ethic. She had vague ambitions to study musical theater, but when showbiz success did not fall into her lap, she took on a series of 9-5 jobs that clearly showed her senseless.
‘Oh, I’ve done loads. I worked in an ice-cream place. I worked as a delivery driver — that wasn’t for me. I worked for a cinematography company that did weddings, but that was quite pressured because if I didn’t get something in focus… At the end of the day, I just didn’t feel that burn in my gut about any of them .’
It’s a strangely modern idea, that without a burning sense you’ve found your true calling, you should simply chuck in your job. And it left Rae aimless; she lived for Friday night, reasoning that if she could earn enough for the odd holiday, she was doing OK.
‘I see what my mum and dad meant now. You have to have goals in life and work towards them. It’s not all about being materialistic.’
She has discovered a sense of focus, she says. So what does she want to focus on next? Her career as an influencer. Hmm.
The irony is that all the contestants have gained a massive leg-up in their pre-show goal of becoming social media personalities.
So is Rae ready for independent adulthood? She does admit that she has some way to go. Before coming to London for this piece, she popped in to chat to her mum. ‘She’d printed out all my travel arrangements for me, done me an itinerary and worked out all the trains.’
- Snowflake Mountain was released yesterday on Netflix.