Tv's Survivor: Heroes And Villains Essay

3228 words - 13 pages

In 2000, three simple words encircling a tiki torch and palm tree defined not only a television series, but a whole new culture of entertainment: outwit, outplay, outlast. When the competitive reality show Survivor first hit the air, producers Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst left sixteen Americans stranded on a tropical island, hoping only for nature to take its course and drama to ensue. No one could have predicted the phenomenon that would be a catalyst not only for reality TV, but competitive game shows set on putting people in their most vulnerable state. Now that ten years have passed, many people have begun to quickly dismiss Survivor as the Destroyer of Thoughtful Television: a show focused only on scheming, conniving, and eating bugs, all for the sake for winning one million dollars. Going even further, intellectuals argue that shows like Survivor encourage blatant discrimination, racism, sexism, and ageism - after all, the idea of the show is to form social cliques (dubbed "alliances") and vote people both out of the game and off the island, sometimes for no reason other than not “liking” them. Not to mention the fact that it always seems to magically start pouring rain the moment two people are left standing on a ten-foot pole above the Atlantic Ocean in the final challenge, introducing the controversial concept of whether or not reality TV is real at all, but merely a contrived series of events captured by a camera.
While all of these negative arguments are valid, critics are underestimating the positives of the show. The reason why the series has managed to last through ten years, twenty seasons, two-hundred contestants, and dozens of locations varying from jungle isles to desert oases is that it offers a psychological case study in social and human behavior. Because the show captures people in their most primitive state, audiences around the world are forced to reckon with the reality of survival of the fittest, grapple with morality, and come to terms with real priorities: is a comfortable bed more important than fresh water? Should psychological egoism be left on the back-burner for the good of the tribe? Is all truly fair in love and war? Politically and socially, the situations presented on the show reflect the necessary decisions of humanity, exposing the deepest human emotions - the highest of highs and the lowest of lows of people struggling for survival. When audiences acknowledge this struggle, they find themselves cheering on certain contestants from their homes, hoping for their favorite to win. CBS, the network that has featured Survivor since its inception, has encouraged this love of players by bringing back earlier competitors for another chance at a million bucks, consequently increasing television ratings, pleasing fans, and redeeming previous losers of the show.
In its attempt to milk the successful followings of past contestants, Survivor has had three seasons dedicated to the return of favorites, most recently,...

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