Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Surviving “Real” TV

With over forty Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday posts under our belt, can anyone believe that Amber West and I have yet to review any reality TV programs?  I’m shocked… especially considering I am one of the millions guilty of watching “real” television throughout the year.

During our WatchWed holiday-like hiatus, Amber and I published our DVR priorities where I listed reality TV as one of my number one DVR must-records.  Why? Because most reality sensations don’t air again if missed at the original time slot, and I don’t want to miss out.

This week, Amber and I review two of Mark Burnett’s reality shows — the no-nonsense Shark Tank and the no-holds-barred Survivor.

Now in its 24th season, Survivor follows tribe members (contestants of all races, ages, and backgrounds) as they battle it out to win immunity, hoping to Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast the other contestants.  They are isolated, usually at a beautiful tropical location with gnarly storm seasons, and they must build a shelter to survive.  During physical and mental competitions, the tribes earn rewards — flint for fire, fishing equipment, tarps, and luxury items (such as pillows and blankets — yea, not very “luxury” by our definition, right?).  But no single prize is as great as the immunity idol.

An example of a physical competition...

The competitions aren’t the only obstacle standing in the way of the Ultimate Survivor winning the one million dollar cash prize.  The elements are intense, sometimes so brutal I don’t know how the contestants find the will-power to keep going.

Fire is life; without fire, even the water isn’t safe to drink.  I’m amazed every season at the number of contestants accepted onto the show who haven’t learned to master starting a fire using nothing but twigs and patience.

And then there are the bugs.  The bugs are the number one reason why I could never play this game that I love.  Call me a pansy; call me what you will.  But I hate bugs — Bugs that crawl; Bugs that fly; Bugs that breathe.  Period.  The number of bug bites on the contestants makes my skin crawl.

Everything considered, the most important aspect of playing Survivor is one’s ability to socialize — to form alliances.  Without the votes of the fellow tribe members, a contestant’s days on the island come to an end at tribal council (considering they don’t hold the immunity idol or a hidden immunity idol, of course).

"Immunity is up for grabs..."

Winning competitions over and over again does not guarantee the million dollar prize (does it, Colby?).  Aligning with the perfect partner/partners can carry someone all the way to the end.

Speaking of Colby Donaldson... Guns Up, Red Raiders!!

One of the best alliances of all time might just be Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich (now Mariano) in Survivor All-Stars.  The two were playing the game for the second time and formed what many considered to be an unlikely alliance, but one that took them both to the end.  Together they claimed both the first and second place cash prizes, and later pocketed the ultimate prize when they married and started a family.  I actually think Survivor has been more successful with couples marrying than the Bachelor and Bachelorette.    But I digress…

Survivor's "Godfather" -- Boston Rob

Sometimes being the villain of the group also pays off.  How?  I don’t know, but we’ve seen it on multiple occasions.  Heck, I’ve even gone from despising a contestant one season to liking them later on (Coach, a.k.a. “The Dragon Slayer” had this effect on me, but it took him three seasons to do it).  Villains do rather well most of the time – Parvati, Russell Hantz, and even Boston Rob (yes, the same Rob Mariano as mentioned earlier.)  Russell was so evil that his own nephew didn’t want the other contestants to know he was related to him when he played on a later season.

Are these people really villains?  No, of course not.  But do they play the game of Survivor to win at all costs, no-holds-barred?  Yes, and quite well at that.

Hosted by the ever-adorable Jeff Probst, Survivor has earned multiple award nominations and won.  The show is such a success, that CBS has already ordered two more seasons following the conclusion of the one currently airing.  Yay!

The Probster...

But does that mean Survivor earns a GTV rating?  No, but it is definitely a guilty pleasure and sits firmly as a MacTV favoriteSurvivor is one of my favorite reality programs.  I have never missed a season.  Never.  Call me crazy, but I literally get giddy as the clock inches closer and closer to 7pm CST on Wednesday nights — kind of like a young child standing nearby as his or her mommy makes mac-n-cheese for dinner.  It’s exciting.

"Your tribe has spoken." Yes, that is Jimmy Johnson (the former NFL coach). The last words any contestant wants to hear...

What do you think? Do you watch Survivor?  Who’s your favorite contestant over the years?  Mine are Boston Rob and Colby Donaldson, if you haven’t gathered from my mentioning above… Have you considered Outwitting, Outplaying, and Outlasting the competition enough to apply for CBS’ reality hit?   Do you watch any reality TV?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about ABC’s “real” TV, Shark Tank.

Come back next week when Amber and I review something interesting…

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

37 Replies to “Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Surviving “Real” TV”

  1. I have lived for Survivor for every show! From the humble beginnings (the 2nd was awesome surprise back in NYC for finale!) to adoring Cody (sigh..he totally gave up the million bucks) to hating Boston Rob to loving Boston Rob and rooting for him to hating Russell and admiring Russell. Yet this season is quite lame – there is no one I love or want to root for. I was all set to shoot my video and send it in to get on the show as I SO BADLY wanted to be on…then got pregnant and now old, out of shape and fuhgetaboutit! Then whenever the person I love doesnt win I stomp off and swear I will never watch again – and then of course do!

    This show is a guilty pleasure and the only reality TV I indulge in. Its formula works and they dont deviate too much to lose the audience (like the idiot Celebrity Apprentice. Was SO much more interesting with real people not star has-beens). I cant wait for the behind the scenes show on Survivor – but then that would mean its over! someday soon it will be and then what the heck will In indulge in??

    Great post Tiffany!

      1. I agree, Donna. The Survivor formula works and they do not deviate from it like most other shows…

        Regarding this season, now that Colton is gone it is getting better. I really couldn’t stand the sound bites he was getting. Such a rude person… I’ve disliked contestants before, but never one quite like this.

        Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. Good ol’ Colby…he may not have won the money, but at least he has a gig on Top Shot. If I didn’t like guns so much, I might actually watch it just for him. 😉 Gotta support our West Texas peeps!

  3. Oh how I hate reality TV! I’ve never liked it. Sometimes I’m forced to hear it in the background when my husband is watching something like Swamp Loggers, or whatever that thing’s called. Now I really don’t mind when he’s got those Picker guys on because I actually like those guys. But I couldn’t care less if I ever saw any of the shows. I must be in the minority, considering how popular they are.

    1. Reality isn’t for everyone, Lauralynn… My parents cringe when I’m visiting at it’s Survivor or Big Brother season. They try to tell me their DVR doesn’t record such nonsense. LOL. 🙂

  4. Watched Suvivor once. I was in the hospital and the TV could only get CBS. I never went back. “Reality” television is the cheapest, lowest form of programming. A bunch of network suits sit around a table and spitball ideas, then it happens; “How about (insert number here) get stranded in a (insert situation here) and we film them. We eliminate a player a week and the winner gets a lifetime supply of Preparation H and $100,000.” They pat themselves on the back, give themselves a raise and go out for cocktails. And we wonder why we’re slipping in the world view.

    1. I won’t disagree that some reality is just nonsense. Okay, most reality. But there are a few shows that I really enjoy – Survivor (obviously), Big Brother, and Hells Kitchen mostly. It doesn’t take much brain activity to enjoy, and there are those nights when that is exactly what I’m looking for. LOL

      Thanks for stopping by, Tom!

  5. Tiffany, I was wondering when you’d get to covering Survivor! LOVE the show, although we didn’t really start watching every episode until the season after Australia. What a thrill ride it can be! And you really feel like you’re getting to know the contestants, week after week, even though the portrayals are rather manipulated by editing. My favorite? Yao-Man! Would I go on Survivor? No way! LOL! I can’t eat gross things, and I hate bugs, too (and I garden!).

    Fun post!

  6. For the most part, I am anti-reality TV…but the fact is, most reality TV isn’t JUST reality. There are scripts. There is order to the chaos you see. Lots of editing to create drama that isn’t always there.

    I have watched Survivor – 3 seasons I think? – but it always happens by accident. Boredom leads me to watching one episode, and then I get hooked. Which is why I usually don’t start. 🙂

    1. Reality TV is definitely scripted. I learned this first hand when my best friend was on one herself. She’d call/email us after the show to tell us what really happened…I’ve actually stopped watching that particular show because of the edits. It took so much of the “fun” out of it for me.

  7. I got into Survivor initially because my friend was editing it. (He moved on a million years ago.) it’s like crack. I love it, too. I loved Parvarti. I have to admit I was soooo happy when Colton got injured this season and had to leave. But we all know what that means? He’ll be back, right?

    I would do anything to be on Survivor, and I sent in tapes twice. Then I blew out my back and I realized there is no way that I could compete at the same level as everyone else because of my injury, so now I enjoy from my couch. By the way, fellow blogger @deb_bryan of The Monster in Your Closet and I had been cyber-pals for over 6 months before I learned her husband, Anthony had been a contestant on Survivor. He was the guy who couldn’t swim very well and had a thing about sea cucumbers. Check her out. He wrote a post for her about his experiences.

    Fun post. Who do you want to win this season? Don’t say Alicia! 😉

    1. I’m with you, Renee – Alicia is a nasty piece of work. I felt the same way about Colton getting injured, sorry to say. It was a relief to see him go. I just don’t understand how a guy like that had so much power – I figured it was more likely for him to be bullied himself, rather than BE the bully! Just weird.

    2. Parvarti played the game VERY well….

      I couldn’t stand Colton this season. I’ve disliked contestants before, but never like this. He may be the meanest person I’ve ever met (well, we haven’t met but you get what I mean). K-A-R-M-A…

      I am definitely not yelling for Alicia. I want her gone too. Just like Colton. They were two peas in a pod. Heck, this past week was the first time she did halfway decent in a challenge. I’m pulling for Jay and probably Kim and Chelsea. I liked Mike, but he’s gone now…

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Renee!

  8. I have never been able to get into this show. I don’t see the reality of it when there are cameras all around. I get tired of the snarking and backstabbing. My parents love it tho, along with Big Brother. Seems like these shows will go on forever!

  9. Love Survivor and Reality TV. Boston Rob has been one of my favorites over the years…and I’ve watched him all four times until he finally won the title of ultimate survivor. This season is kind of weak, not really any favorites, kind of counting down the weeks until it is over. Colton was obnoxious, but at least brought drama and entertainment, they rest are just boring.

    1. Call me crazy, but I think Boston Rob and Ozzy may be the two best contestants we’ve seen. This season is a bit drab, but the way the tribe is voting out members has been keeping me on my toes. If they keep playing their cards this way, none of my favorites (if you can call them that) will win…

      Thanks for stopping by!!

  10. I haven’t seen Survivor since the first couple years. I don’t know what happened…I guess there were too many reality options. I do love Jeff Probst, but not as much as I love Chris Harrison. It probably says something about these shows if the hosts are my favorite part..

    1. Chris Harrison over Jeff Probst? Naaahhh…. 🙂

      I think the hosts make up a great deal of appeal for audiences. Think about it: if we didn’t like the host, would we watch? Probably not…

      Thanks for stopping by, Sara!

  11. You and me both with the bugs! That’s the one part about Survivor that I really think would be too much. To have them biting and crawling and giving me who knows what exotic disease *shudder*

    I think you’re right about Survivor bringing together more long-term couples than any of the dating shows. I know Biggest Loser makes that boast. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that people don’t come to shows like Survivor and BIggest Loser looking to find love and so it can hit them more naturally. Plus, there’s the bonding during extreme challenges.

    1. I had never thought of it this way, Marcy, but I agree! I think the contestants on shows like Survivor and The Biggest Loser don’t go into the show thinking they’re going to find love, but then they find other people with similar interests and goals that they form deep connections with. I think you nailed it!

      Thanks for stopping by!!

  12. I’ve watched Survivor most of the time since the beginning. I was actually rooting for Richard Hatch because it amused me that he so scandalized people. I guess he was the first villain. The villains have gotten nastier and nastier as the years go by. I guess what I like is the there are a variety of challenges, by the mental game, the physical game and the by environment. At least they seem to have done away with spider-eating contests.

    I watched Big Brother for years, but liked it better when there was a larger variety of age ranges selected as participants. I like Amazing Race, for the challenges and for the scenery, not always for the contestants. That’s it. No New Jersey, no Housewives, no Apprentices, no Real whatever.

    1. Richard Hatch was a great contestant! I still shudder at him walking around camp naked. LOL

      Survivor hasn’t had a spider-eating contest in a while, has it? Thank Goodness!

      I love Big Brother and the Amazing Race. I watch the Race because of all of the beautiful locations and local cultures that the contestants get to visit, learn, and participate in. I still think there may be too much running involved for me to think about auditioning though…

      And no “Real” anything for me either. I’ve never watched one single episode of any of the housewives, except for the Deseperate ones. I like those. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Lee!

      Thanks for stopping by!!

  13. LOVE Survivor. Like you, I am on edge each week waiting for it to air. Call me crazy, but it’s the one reality show I could see myself going on and I like to think I’d do pretty well. I don’t have an all time fav contestant, but do remember having a big crush on Elisabeth from the Australian Outback season. 😉 What I love about the show is, try as I might, I always try to pick the winner early on, but there’s so many twists and turns I never get it right. What I’d like to see is a season where they bring back contestants that were booted out first, those that never really had a shot. Oh and let me be on that season too… CBS… call me! 😀

    1. CBS, call Mike!! 🙂

      Elisabeth was pretty adorable on the Austrailian Outback… looks like reality TV served her well with her landing a spot on The View.

      I think last year was the first time ever that I was able to pick the winner early on, but that’s mainly because I wanted Boston Rob to win!! If I had to predict right now for this season, I’d call Jay. We’ll see…

      Thanks for stopping by!

      1. I don’t know what it is about him, but I can’t stand Boston Rob!

        I’ve picked Chelsea or Kim to win this year. But now I’ve said that, I’ve just jinxed them. It would be great to see Leif win; he gets SO excited when his team wins a challenge I can only imagine what he’d do if he took the whole thing out.

      2. I really like Chelsea and Kim too (Kim’s from my hometown)… And you are right about Leif! He is so energetic and seems like a genuinely nice guy. I was upset the week I thought they were going to blind side him for telling Bill what the tribe was planning. Glad they didn’t; I did feel bad for Bill though.

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