One of my greatest guilty pleasures in life is getting sucked into a reality television show. It doesn’t matter what the show is when I start watching, I can’t stop. The more dramatic the show, the more invested I am.
I grew up watching MTV, so shows like “The Real World,” “Real World Road Rules Challenge” and “The Jersey Shore” are what grabbed me right away. While I can still appreciate the entertainment value that MTV offers from time to time, I found a fresh kick.
Recently Netflix added two seasons of “Survivor.” After a quick Google search, seasons 20 and 28 are the two most beloved by “Survivor” fans. A few weeks ago, I gave it a shot for the first time. It’s safe to say I’m hooked.
I finished both seasons and have moved on to the 31 others on Hulu. For me, this is a great way to bridge the dead period of Hollywood. A few weeks ago, I wrote about when the best and worst movies are released each year. Let me tell you, there are some terrible movies in theaters right now.
Now, you might be sitting here wondering who hasn’t heard about “Survivor?” There have been 40 seasons over the last 21 years. It’d be crazy if some people didn’t hear of it. While likely true, reality television can be hard to get into if you don’t get in on the ground floor.
Every reality show has a cult-like following that unintentionally alienates new viewers from giving it a shot. The longer a show is on, the more the show has to switch things up to make it feel fresh for the longtime viewers. When the rules and atmosphere of a competition change, it tends not to feel significant for new viewers, leaving the intended purpose of that season falling short.
I’m sure there are seasons in “Survivor” where it won’t come off as entertaining to me as it would to somebody who’s tuned in since day one. But in the two seasons I’ve watched, I can safely say that I understand the fanfare.
Coming from a sports background, the reality shows I enjoy the most are centered around competition. I don’t think there’s ever been a reality show that has a better game to play than “Survivor.” People are stranded on an island for 39 days with limited supplies. They have to live off the land while playing games that can earn them rewards. Some of the games can earn them immunity from elimination. Players are kicked from the competition by a vote from the tribe.
Once half the field is gone, the eliminated players begin to make up the jury. The jury decided who the winner of the game is in the final vote. Players have to make decisions based on what’s best for themselves and what won’t get a scornful reaction come voting time for the jury.
The best part about “Survivor” is there are many ways to win the game. You can be the good guy that tells the truth and stays loyal, but it might not get you as far as the people who are willing to lie and break promises. Heroes and villains have won the game by doing whatever it takes, proving time-and-time again that it’s often the most brilliant people that end up on top.
The only thing I wish for is more drama. MTV is the king of reality TV drama, and ABC is a close second. I think the contestants on “Survivor” are more level-headed than other players on other shows, meaning the drama comes secondary sometimes.
If you haven’t gotten into “Survivor” or are looking for a way to pass the time to a new season, you can stream the show on Netflix and Hulu. I would recommend starting with season 28. “Survivor: Cagayan” is an all-rookie cast that will show you how crazy the competition can get.