Solitary 3.0 no match for Federal Way resident

Maureen Francisco purposely put herself in solitary confinement.

For a week she sat, paced and talked to herself in a small room, getting only snatches of sleep, few bathroom breaks and little food.

And all of it is on film.

Francisco, who lives in Federal Way, is a contestant for the upcoming season of Solitary 3.0, which premieres at 9 p.m. on the Fox Reality Channel Jan. 17.

The show puts contestants alone in a small pod, or room, which they stay in until they choose to leave. However, along the way, they are subjected to “challenges,” which mirror some forms of torture.

Some of the challenges contestants face in this season include building their own coffin, eating their way through cheese to find clues and sitting on progressively smaller seats, suspended up in the air. Contestants can leave at any time and the first person who leaves a challenge is sent home. The fellow contestants don’t know when someone is leaving.

“You never see the other contestants,” Francisco said. “You don’t know if someone else has quit. You end up pushing yourself to exhaustion. You have no one to blame but yourself.”

In addition to the challenges, there is also the pressure that the solitary confinement in a small enclosure brings.

“I am really the type of person who functions best on eight hours of sleep,” Francisco said. “If not, I get grouchy.”

In addition to the lack of sleep, Francisco said that she stopped eating toward the end of the competition, since she preferred competing with an empty stomach and monitored her water intake so she wouldn’t have to think about using the bathroom during a challenge.

Francisco, who grew up in Federal Way and graduated from Decatur High School in 1995, has always loved doing rather than watching. So her family wasn’t too surprised when she auditioned for the show.

After auditioning, Francisco took several trips to California for interviews and for health tests. When she finally found out that she was a contestant, she had just two days before the show started.

“I was told on Tuesday and flew out Thursday night,” Francisco said. “I had to rearrange my life very quickly.”

This season also started with a twist.

In prior seasons of Solitary, the contestants began the season in their pod alone. This season, contestants started off with another player in their pod for the first challenge, having to earn their way into a pod.

“I went from liking him to wanting to kick him,” Francisco said.

The season will begin airing on Saturday.

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