Review: ‘The Hungry Games: Alaska’s Big Bear Challenge’

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Peacock’s new series The Hungry Games: Alaska’s Big Bear Challenge is unlike any competition show you’ve ever seen.

In what is being called “the first natural history competition show,” a group of Alaskan brown bears compete to eat 3 million calories over the course of 150 days to see who can gain the most weight to survive during the winter hibernation. 

Unbeknownst to the bears, they are being judged in three categories: beefiness, ingenuity, and grit, or their B.I.G. Bear Score. They are able to accumulate up to 100 points total – 50 points for beefiness, with 25 points for ingenuity and 25 points for grit. But strategize wisely, bears. Anyone with less than 70 points at the end of a round will be eliminated and cannot be crowned Biggest Bear.

On hand to provide color commentary, fun facts, and hilarious jokes is comedian Rhys Darby (Our Flag Means Death, Flight of the Conchords). Darby’s narration hits all the right beats, toeing the perfect line between funny and educational. He serves as a surrogate for the audience, sometimes saying things to the bears just as people at home would likely do, like when one bear attempts to mate and Darby yells that he should be concentrating on the meal of washed-up whale carcass in front of him instead.

The bears themselves are also stars. Mama Bear Boldface is boldly protective of her cubs and fans unquestionably will let out a huge cheer when she defends them from a hungry wolf in the first episode. Tactical and strategic Bernie is also an early contender for the top of the leaderboard, but the standout bear is definitely Bigboi, if just for his humorous – and accurate! – name alone.

The show was inspired by Fat Bear Week, an annual competition among the bears of Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve wherein they gather to catch and eat sockeye salmon and beef up before hibernation, with fans voting for their favorite chonkiest bear. 

The Hungry Games is perfect for fans of Nat Geo nature shows, but will also appeal to competition show diehards; it’s like The Biggest Loser in reverse. Darby’s narration keeps things moving and offers laugh-out-loud moments as he follows the bumbling bears. It’s easily bingeable and will keep audiences riveted as they root for their favorite bear to win the ultimate title of biggest bear.

The three-part miniseries premieres today, July 11 on Peacock. Check out the trailer below:

Haylee Fisher
Haylee Fisher
Haylee has loved writing since she was 8 years old, when she would sit in front of the TV handwriting (see: doodling) recaps of shows such as The Munsters, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie. She started writing for Nerds and Beyond in September 2023. She previously wrote for Nerd HQ for over five years where she had the honor of interviewing celebrities including author Andy Weir, actor Zachary Levi, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and many others. When not writing, you can find her reading or binge-watching her favorite shows. Current fandoms include Roswell, New Mexico, and Our Flag Means Death. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @haylee_fisher

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