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

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