Unearthing a Buried Life

Penelope, the bus, and the guys from MTV's "The Buried Life".

By Emily Krohn

Four guys. One 1968-transit bus named Penelope. One list with one hundred things. One important question: What do you want to do before you die?

The creators and star’s of MTV’s new hit reality show, “The Buried Life” can cross “Make a television show” off of their list.

What started out as a two-week road trip during the summer of 2006 has morphed into a way of life for Ben Nemtin, Jonnie Penn, Dave Lingwood, and Duncan Penn. The four have set out to conquer their dreams, but also help strangers accomplish theirs. For every item they cross of their list, they in turn will help someone with their own “buried life”.

For Ben, 26, from Victoria, British Columbia, this experience is beyond anything he could have hoped for.

“The risk was failing. I remember the hardest thing I did was pick up the phonebook and call,” he said.

Originally, the idea was to create a documentary of their experiences accomplishing the list. Through non-traditional marketing and a grassroots following, the group gained popularity and quickly made some important connections. Eventually, they ended up signing a deal with MTV.

“We’re going to keep control of everything. We were never in a place of desperation. MTV is a great megaphone for the project,” Nemtin said, “They bought [the episodes], but we own the website. We’re executive producers [of the show] and edit it ourselves.”

After years of producing television gems like “The Real World” and “Jersey Shore”, MTV themselves took a leap of faith and decided to produce this unique series on accomplishing seemingly impossible dreams.

The series, since its premiere in January, has generated a tremendous amount of popularity and have inspired viewers across the globe to create their own “Buried Life” lists.

“We try to keep it really real. What would inspire our friends? People see different parts of themselves in the project”

Although they’ve accomplished over half the things on their list, there isn’t foreseeable end to “The Buried Life” both on television and in practice.

“The list] changes. We add things. We take things off. It’ll be different in 10 or 15 years. Start a family. Buy a house,” he said, “This stuff can actually happen. To see the show on MTV is a cool one to cross off. You can do anything you want.”


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