- (Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)
"Doomsday Preppers" on National Geographic is banking on the current craze over end of the world predictions to make the program into the next big reality television hit, as the show attracted a record number of viewers in its Tuesday premiere.
The Mayan Calendar ends on December 21, 2012, which has long been feared by many to signalize the end of the world. Popular Hollywood movies, such as "2012," the 2009 action drama that chronicles how natural disasters could destroy the planet, have attributed to growing fears of potential apocalyptic events. Some members of the public have gone as far as asking NASA about whether it would be a good idea to kill themselves or their pets to avoid suffering potential cataclysmic events.
Christians are by no means exempt from looking for signs of the end times, as Family Radio Stations, Inc. founder Harold Camping showed with his series of failed end times predictions.
As the title suggests, "Doomsday Preppers" features families and people across the United States making preparations for any possible cataclysms that might hit Earth in the near future.
"Doomsday Preppers" explores such fears – and purports to equip people with the proper tools and training to face whatever the uncertain future might hold. One of the people featured is Tim Ralston, a married father of two from Arizona, who turned his family's two-car garage into a staging area where he keeps freeze-dried food, survival gear, a system for purifying polluted water, first aid kits and weapons – his toddler son even has his own AK-47.
"There's a lot of different things that could happen," Ralston said according to ABC News. "For me, I look at prepping as kind of like insurance. You have car insurance, health insurance, life insurance."
His ultimate plan is to build an underground shelter in the dessert using a converted shipping container, where he hopes his family will be able to survive any unexpected events that may hit Earth.
"In the beginning, my wife really wasn't on the same page as I was," Ralston added. "But in reality, the more information I started to give to her, it opened up her eyes to the other potential threats that are out there."
The show is not only about end of the world predictions – it also focuses on worst-case scenarios that might happen in everyday life. On the series premiere on Tuesday, trainer Kellene Bishop taught self-defense techniques to a group of women, preparing them for both doomsday scenarios and rape attacks, The Huffington Post reported.
Bishop assured the women that if attacked, they are "allowed to hurt, maim or kill someone who wants to rape you."
Some entrepreneurs are already offering what they call the latest and most well-prepared anti-doomsday protection – one company, Vivos, is building underground bunkers that promise to withstand almost any major catastrophe that may hit Earth. Its founder, Robert Vicino, says Christians relying on the Rapture as their safety net would do well to also make preparations, and described his project as "Rapture Insurance."
"Hopefully Vivos has alerted people and gotten the word out. I got an inspiration in my early 20s to do this – and the inspiration was very strong, it told me that something was coming and it is going to really seriously affect the Earth. I didn't know what it was or when it was coming, but I just knew that I had to prepare for it," Vicino shared.
"Doomsday Preppers," which airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET, attracted more than four million viewers in its two-episode premiere this week, National Geographic revealed. The two-part broadcast was "the highest-rated Tuesday night telecasts in the channel's 11-year history" with "nearly 4.3 million total viewers over age 2 and 2.3 million viewers" between 25-54 years old tuning in.