Self Reliance: What is the Meaning of D.O.G? Why is the Game Called D.O.G?

Hulu’s ‘Self Reliance’ follows a man’s effort to stay alive for thirty days while he is hunted by ruthless assassins. The only thing that will keep him safe is the company of other people. As long as he is around others, he will not be attacked. It seems like an easy task, but it turns out to be much more difficult. As further details about the show start to come out, he discovers just how dangerous and immoral an endeavor he has landed himself in. The name itself reveals quite a lot. SPOILERS AHEAD

The Title of the Game Reveals Its Dark Undertones

When Tommy Walcott agreed to play the game, he didn’t inquire much about it. He was told the rules, the goal, and the reward. He was told that this was the biggest reality show on the dark web, but they never revealed the titles of the show and who was behind it. Tommy was too excited with this sudden turn in his life to worry about the details that didn’t even matter to him. It isn’t until a couple of weeks into the game that he discovers what it’s called.

The title of the game is D.O.G, which is short for ‘Delusions of Grandeur.’ Tommy thought it would be a survival game, considering that the point is survival against all odds. But it turns out that the show is actually a comedy. The people who are watching him and the other contestants are laughing at them while they are trying to dodge assassins and trying to convince their loved ones that the game is real.

The game’s title works both ways, giving meaning to the participants’ struggle as well as to the audience’s cruel sense of humor. From the audience’s point of view, ‘DOG’ appears to be an apt title, considering that the viewers are not bothered by the fact that should the participants fail, they will be killed. It is literally life and death for them, and still, the audience is not concerned with that. In fact, the desperate attempts of the participants to stay alive seem more ridiculous to them as the situation gets dire for people like Tommy.

‘Delusions of Grandeur’ also refers to the fact that being chosen for the game show gives the participants a false sense of self-importance. Before they were offered this opportunity, they were stuck in a rut. They were directionless people who struggled to find meaning in their lives. Tommy discovers that the participants are not chosen randomly but picked out based on the level of their mental state and their struggle with loneliness. It is the most vulnerable who provide the most entertainment, and that’s why they are chosen.

The participants, however, don’t know about these criteria. Being chosen, even if for a lethal game show, offers them some consolation that they are chosen for bigger things, that all the dullness and lack of excitement and other things they hated about their life was just something they had to go through before they became the heroes of their story, survive this impossible ordeal and become millionaires. They think that the people watching the show would root for them, being the underdog they are, and that is the delusion under which they function.

The show’s creators know the mentality that the participants will harbor, especially when the participants don’t know if there is any other person in the game. They are brought under the spotlight and feel singular and important, and that’s why “delusions of grandeur” is the apt way to describe them. This is why the participants are not told the title of the show, because the knowledge would burst their bubble and demotivate them, which would not make for good entertainment.

Read More: Where is Self Reliance Filmed?