Have you ever dreamed of being a fly on the sauna wall? Well, thanks to a new Estonian reality TV series, it’s now possible.*
Notice to reality TV fans and Internet users. Relatively new Estonian production company Rumal Productions brings a new series to the BBC tonight. Titled “Sauna Secrets,” the show exposes the inner workings of a fundamental element of Estonian culture: the sauna.
The show will film sauna revelers eager to unwind after a long week, network with business partners, and purify themselves to the inside of their souls. The producers promise plenty of interesting dialogue, cheeky camera angles, and steamy (literal steam) scenes. Unscripted and uncensored, the show garnered early rave reviews, including the following from British television critic, Otto Tuunin:
“After years of reality television disasters, ‘Sauna Secrets’ revitalizes the industry. The show includes everything bare necessities for captivating television – riveting dialogue, new characters and passionate drama. It’s more than a voyeuristic window in the wall of the sauna. On the contrary, one is transported to the upper bench of a rustic sauna and the feeling of being surrounded by dry heat is palpable. The first time I looked at it, so convinced that I was part of the action, I started sweating from every pore and accidentally and embarrassedly threw a bucket of water on the coffee table next to my sofa. steam sizzling from the sauna stones, I need a new cell phone.
Several innovations of reality TV
Rumal Productions boasts of several reality TV innovations. “Sauna Secrets” will feature never-before-seen camera angles offering a front-row seat, including a birch viht-cam (birch whip camera), a cedar bench cam, and an underwater robotic camera in the lake where participants cool off. Other innovations include moving subtitles, in case the graphics interfere with viewing pleasure. And, in particular, an associated telephone application makes it possible to control a central camera.
Pushing the boundaries of reality TV, which producers say has become obsolete, is a goal. Estonian World spoke with Aino Aur, CEO of Rumal Productions. “Singing competitions, scripted dating theatre, cooking melodramas… that’s enough. It’s time for the world to experience first-hand Estonians’ love affair with the sauna. I mean, seriously, is there a more pointless way to spend an hour than watching the Kardashians show off the collective IQ from a mop bucket of water?”
Four episodes are ready to air. Translated into English, Season 1 currently includes episodes titled Full Moon, The Most Painful Splinter and Butt, Seriously Folks. If all goes well and the ratings are excellent, the producers hope to continue filming.
Check the availability of your favorite streaming service
Estonian World received an exclusive preview of the first episode. The setting is a picturesque lakeside sauna on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, it is night time. The scene opens on the quay. From the opening sequence, featuring four full moons on the dock backlit by an even fuller moon in the sky, we were won over.
Clearly friends, the four revelers enter the sauna and an orange glow cuts through the dark night air. They laugh and puff from a glass bottle with some sort of clear liquid (water? lemon-lime soda? – the viewer wonders). They discuss the day’s events in amusing detail. We learn that one is a cook, the other an accountant, a teacher and the last freak-show contortionist. We uncover their inner secrets – a love triangle at work, a financial scandal, a human pretzel trick gone wrong. As the episode ends, clearly a cliffhanger, we want more.
(Warning, spoiler alert: it wasn’t water, it was vodka).
Sauna Secrets will air on April 1 on BBC 2, but will also be available online – check your favorite streaming service for availability. Be sure to log in, you’ll be glad you did. Not fool.
Cover: One of the saunas featured in the new reality show (image by Tõnu Runnel). *Please note that this is the April Fool’s article.