Returning to Survivor

Back in the day, there were a number of shows I watched regularly. When I ditched television back around 2009, I gave up most of them. At the time, it just didn’t make sense to be paying how much I was paying (as a percent of what I earned) in return for the television shows themselves. Of course, it’s been 12 years or so since then, and there’s only so much sitting around during a pandemic you can handle. So maybe it only makes sense that I would eventually return to some of the television shows I used to watch all the time. (I even caught some of American Idol on Sunday. I’m still not sure how I feel about that . . .)

But one show that I’ve really been enjoying catching up on is definitely Survivor. We had avoided watching it with the kids for a long while, simply because I remembered it getting fairly cutthroat, and I wasn’t sure they were up to it yet. But there’s something about being abandoned on a beach and having to fend for yourself that really resonates with me right now (I wonder why), and so we launched in with Season 25. (I can’t remember which seasons I’ve seen and which I haven’t, so we just started somewhere I was sure no one had seen.)

If I were to ever want to go on a reality game show, Survivor would definitely be my first choice. It’s not my favorite of the genre: that would be The Amazing Race. However, I’ve traveled enough to know that I personally would probably tank in the Amazing Race. All those planes . . . I just don’t think I could force myself to do that for that amount of time. Survivor, on the other hand, has proven that you don’t necessarily need to be a superhero to be able to succeed in the game. Yes, there’s a physical aspect to it, but so much of the game is social and strategic, and that’s the part of watching it that really appeals to me.

I love board games. To me, Survivor is just one big enormous social interaction game, and nothing more. I don’t really understand how people playing the game say things like, “I have to give up my integrity to play this game well.” It’s a game. If I’m playing Risk with someone, and I make an alliance with them, and then I end up having to break that alliance, am I suddenly a person with no integrity? I would say no, since it’s all within the bonds of that game. (And in Risk, if you break an alliance, that can really come back to haunt you, just as in Survivor.)

Does that mean I’d do anything in order to win? No. I tend to believe I’d use my typical skill sets to try and get ahead on the game. When I play board games, I almost always keep my word, even within the bounds of the game. I’ve found that trust is more valuable than short term gains from breaking trust. What else wouldn’t I do? I wouldn’t compromise my morals, and I wouldn’t do things that go against my religion. (Another reason I think the Amazing Race would be ill-suited for me. There’s inevitably some challenge that involves alcohol, and I’d have to just take the automatic penalty, which would really stink.)

Do I think I could win on Survivor? Sure, it’s in the realm of possibility, but just as much as anyone can win on Survivor. Yes, a lot of it is skill based, but there’s plenty of luck as well, and I’m always impressed by the people who manage to successfully finagle their way through all the potential pitfalls to come out on top.

Of course, at the end of it all, I do have a general question as to what the worth of Survivor is. I like to watch things that improve me or my writing somehow. In the Amazing Race, I like seeing other countries and learning a (very small) bit about them. That’s enough to justify the show to me. In Survivor, I’m not sure. It’s an excellent way to pass the time, and it offers some interesting scenarios to spark discussion with the fam. (I wonder how often my family wishes I would stop hitting “pause” to make commentary . . .)

In any case, it’s been a diverting way to spend some evenings again. (Though I’m still not sure I’ll ever get back to full American Idol fandom . . .)

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