Survivor: Island of the Idols

This is Survivor’s 39th season with two seasons per calendar year. I’ve watched every season except for the first two or three. My wife watched those and then somehow I got lured into watching the program.

Like other reality shows, we know that what we see on the screen isn’t exactly what happened. The same is true for shows like “Chopped” and “House Hunters.”

Even though we’re not watching reality, we’re still watching players acting and reacting in a fishbowl. Watching this is an interesting experience for a writer whose stock in trade is people watching.

One interesting facet of the show is the contestants’ views of truth vs. lying. If you have no deception in your game at all, you probably won’t last. Nonetheless, some players maintain they’ve never lied to anyone during the game in spite of the fact that viewers see that those players’ games haven’t been totally pure.

In this season, a female player complained that a male player was improperly touching her. What he did was on tape. These complaints led to the producers getting involved and talking with contestants individually and in groups. The issue was discussed at Tribal Council and there have been some recent comments by contestants now that the two episodes have aired. What surprised me was that the woman who made the complaint was voted off the show and, while the man received votes, he appears to have survived the uproar.

What’s true, what’s not? Some contestants say during conversations on the show that the show is a microcosm of what’s happening in society. Do they truly think so? How can we know? Yet, they may be right to some extent for the “touching controversy” brought out a variety of emotions and viewpoints just as the “Me, Too” movement has been volatile in our lives of late. Not that I see Survivor as a true forum for discussing major issues, but what the contestants say is interesting.

It’s been fun seeing how the producers have tinkered with the show over the years to keep it from getting boring and to constantly introduce new options/rules that surprise the contestants. Then, too, we’ve seen a variety of programs featuring former winners, some of whom–over time–have appeared on several seasons. I begin to wonder how many of them will one day say that their career was appearing on Survivor.

There’s probably no good excuse for watching this show more than any other. We tend to watch NCIS, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and some other shows every week. It’s relaxing. It’s time away from writing and chores. We tape everything and then watch it later (minus the commercials). With Survivor, we’ve had to watch the show before the night it airs is over because people will be talking–either on the news or Facebook–about what happened. That’s less true today than it was during the show’s first years on the air.

Is this just another addiction, a sensible way to relax, or a legitimate way of learning more about people? I have no idea.

Malcolm