Jen And Charlie On Their Biggest Takeaways From Love Off The Grid - Exclusive Interview

We all have that earthy-crunchy friend who's down for anything Mother Nature has to offer — that wild man (or woman) who hikes the Appalachian Trail end to end in flip-flops and knows how to build a waterproof shelter out of twigs and light a fire without matches. Chances are, you also have a friend whose idea of roughing it is going without Netflix. What would happen if you put those two friends together and sequestered them in the middle of nowhere to fend for themselves?

This is the premise of "Love off the Grid," a new show premiering this weekend on Discovery+. The show follows four odd couples, each consisting of a member who embraces rustic life off the grid while the other is a lover of civilized comforts, as they navigate life together in the wild. The outdoorsmen (and women) must introduce their partners to their isolated homes and what they need to know to survive there, while their pampered partners must adjust to their new digs and master an unfamiliar set of household chores. One of the couples, Jen and Charlie, dated seriously while young, but eventually went their separate ways, in part because Jen wasn't sure she was ready to commit to the rustic life Charlie craved. 

Their mutual respect endured, and when life brought them back together again — and gave Jen a second chance to try off-the-grid living — they jumped at the chance. In this exclusive interview, Jen and Charlie share what they learned from life together off the grid.

For Jen, life in Charlie's cabin wasn't nearly as bad as she feared

Jen, you were initially rather intimidated by the prospect of moving in with Charlie. So what scared you most about the idea of living off the grid? And was it as bad as you thought?

Jen: I think anticipation of something that's unknown is always the worst. That was hard for me, the idea of it. I tend to be a thinker, so I was thinking of all the "what ifs." I don't love creepy crawlies. I'm not very comfortable in that. So, all of that kind of stuff, layer that, the wild animals, a small space, and the unknown. I was pretty intimidated by the whole thing, so I would say, no, it wasn't as bad as I thought. Totally.

That must've been a relief.

Jen: Yeah.

Charlie, how did you think that Jen would like living in the mountains, and how easily did you think she'd adjust to your place?

Charlie: From knowing Jen in the past and who she was, I know she loved the mountains and she liked this area, but I didn't know how well she was going to accept small spaces like she came into. It was a surprise that she did it.

Jen, for you, what was the hardest thing to get used to at Charlie's place?

Jen: The small space for sure. And also, no wifi. No real connection to the outside world. That was a challenge.

Life off the grid requires serious commitment, but comes with some pleasant surprises

Charlie, did you ever worry that Jen wouldn't like living off the grid?

Charlie: Oh yeah. I mean, I had concerns, some things are very comfortable, some things are very uncomfortable. I thought she would adapt well, but I had some times I was a little worried while she was here.

Jen, what surprised you most about life at Charlie's place? Did you discover any things that you liked about being up there?

Jen: Yeah, I think the first thing that comes to my mind is how quiet it is. I mean, there [are] no sounds other than nature. Being able to experience nature on that level without other interruptions is pretty incredible. That, I loved. I wasn't thinking about that going into it because I was thinking about all the things I was afraid of and how hard it was going to be, but it [was] so quiet and very peaceful in a lot of ways. When you're just sitting there and taking in all that's around you, that's pretty magnificent.

Charlie, you've been living off the grid for most of your adult life. So what advice would you give someone who wanted to try it?

Charlie: First, I would say I haven't lived off the grid most of my adult life, but I have periodically chased living off the grid. My number one advice would be the commitment — if you're going to try it, commit to it and know what you're going to have available before you start. That would be my advice, and that would be my number one. You got to commit to doing it and then be prepared to do it fully.

Jen, have your sons visited the cabin and what they did think of it if they did?

Jen: They have not yet, so yeah, that's to be seen. Not sure yet.

Charlie, are you looking forward to that?

Charlie: Oh yeah. I'm totally excited about it because there's a lot of room here for young men to explore and see nature in its wildness, and the mountains up here are just beautiful. I can't wait 'til they come.

Here's what Jen and Charlie discovered about each other while living in the cabin

A question for both of you: Did you learn anything new about each other from your time up there in the cabin? And what did you each learn about yourself?

Charlie: Jen?

Jen: Okay, well, I can say what I learned about Charlie is that he's very capable in that situation. When I knew him almost 30 years ago, we lived at the bottom of the mountain, on the lake, it was a different place. We were kids practically. So seeing him off the grid, I mean, he really knows how to handle a lot of situations, and that impressed me. That was something I learned about him.

What I learned about myself is that I am also capable [of doing] things if I set my mind to it as well. I feel like it was a positive thing for me in my life to, all of a sudden, have this abrupt change of course. I had zero plan of this being on my radar in any way, shape, or form — the idea of living in that way, it never crossed my mind. Being open to it, I think that I am actually more open than I thought I might have been, to different things that are completely out of my sphere of experience or understanding, or even thought I would be a part of in any way.

Charlie, what about you? What did you learn about yourself and about Jen from this?

Charlie: I wanted to be as gentle as I could be with Jen, and I found out that I was capable of doing that [for her] needs and what her expectations might be ... it was almost like counseling, to find out how I was going to handle helping her adapt. I had made changes to the cabin and done some stuff to, I guess, spice it up a little bit.

Jen ... [is] tough as nails, and she'll face her fears, and she commits to everything. When she makes a commitment, she's going to go through with it. So far, in this experience, she's handled everything well. It's made me see that some of the things she's asked me, made me want to live more off the grid and tackle those real big dreams I always had of having a modern-type house lifestyle [but] completely off the grid. If everything fell out, we could live comfortably and have [the] paintings we have on the wall that we want, besides just having an outside toilet. She's taught me that.

Jen wasn't sure about the idea of being on TV

Another question for both of you, what make you want to share your lives on a reality TV show?

Jen: I went forward not totally on board. I wasn't jumping at the idea of sharing my life on a reality TV show, but I think ... it was something that was put in my path that I [had] to say "yes or no" to, and saying "yes" was putting me in a place of vulnerability and growth, and saying "no," I would've been doing it out of fear. I ultimately chose to do it. That's my best answer because I wasn't all like gung ho at first at all.

Charlie, what about you?

Charlie: For me, I love writing and literature and the movies, and I'm on IMDb for some things I did like acting and whatnot, but I've always wanted to write a story about my hometown and Lake Lure, something specifically about it. I've always wanted people to see the area and know the area. Besides, "Dirty Dancing" was here and "Last of the Mohicans" and all this great stuff that's been done in our area, but not about our area.

When Jen and I reconnected, it was a great opportunity when I had heard about this casting call, because I'd never done reality TV because I didn't like it. A lot of stuff you don't have control, they control whatnot. Discovery was very awesome in that sense because they just allowed us to be who we were and what we really wanted in life and share the things that we wanted to share instead of force us into stuff. When Jen and I met on that agreement, it was like, bam, we want to do it and show this area and grow together and it will be fun. If it's a great experience, and we do a few shows and laugh about it and look at it with our families and say, we agreed on it. I know that's a long-winded answer, but that's the real one.

Now that Jen's experienced life on film, she'd be willing to try it again

Jen, did you watch a lot of reality TV before joining the show?

Jen: No, actually that's one thing that would be my only off-the-grid thing is I don't do a lot of TV. My life was raising four boys, and it wasn't something that I tried to build my own business, just things I didn't necessarily do. I mean, I've seen some reality TV, but I never have like just watched it or followed it. So this is a very brand-new experience for me.

Can you ever imagine what would be like to be on another show or what show you'd be on if you were?

Jen: Sure, yeah, because this was like pulling the Band-Aid off and all of a sudden getting our feet wet. Now that I've experienced it, I'm much more comfortable with it, and I felt like ... I could really be myself, which made me comfortable. I would feel much more comfortable now doing something after this, than I was going into this in the first place, that's for sure.

Is there any show in particular that you would think you'd like to be on?

Jen: I don't know. I wouldn't even know what's out there and available. I guess "Love Off the Grid 2?"

Charlie: There you go. Great answer.

"Love off the Grid" premieres on Discovery+ on Sunday, January 30.