Some have a favorite show of the season. Some have a TV series they love. Some have a TV series that is one of their all-time favorites. I have a favorite TV series ALL TIME – CBS’s Survivor. Through the years, I have liked many TV series:
- Super Friends, The Carol Burnett Show, and Gunsmoke when I was young.
- Charlie’s Angels, Little House on the Prairie, Giligan’s Island, and Threes Company in junior high.
- MASH and Family Ties in high school.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation and Chees in college.
- Home Improvement, Friends, and Alias in the early years of marriage.
- So You Think You Can Dance, The Amazing Race, and The Big Bang Theory more recently.
But none of them compares to Survivor.
I have seen every episode of every season of Survivor over the last 14+ years, 28+ seasons, and 428+ episodes. I remember the first time I watched it, I was so intrigued by this new style of TV and made sure my schedule worked around Survivor each week. With a VCR, I could record each episode but this was just so I could re-watch; I still needed to be there live in case the VCR didn’t do its job, and I was just too anxious to see the next episode. With time and a DVR that came with more reliable scheduling features, I would trust it to record a show without me, but I usually watched it that night. With more time, I could even wait a few days, a week, or even over a month to watch the episodes, but every time I sat down to watch, it was a treat – it was my Happy Place. Not all seasons are equal and not all are as interesting, but just as devoted football fan would not miss a moment watching his or her favorite team play, I never want to miss a moment of Survivor.
Why the obsession? Yes, it is an obsession when you write a computer program to record information about every contestant and every episode and every challenge and every vote of every season. If I can quantify this obsession, I might shed some interesting light on how I tick.
First of all, I like the structure of the show or the rules. There are lot so reality shows and I like some of them, but the rules of Survivor are the foundation of why Survivor is great. The game is enduring physical deprivation with a few challenges and twists thrown in for spice all wrapped up in an incredibly complex social game. You need to figure out how to get rid of all the other players while they are trying to get rid of you, so that in the very end the ones you helped get rid of will choose you as the sole survivor.
Each season they add new rules or twists to keep the game interesting and to allow players to explore new strategies, but the underlying game is the same. The one that can work through the maze of challenges, and I mean the ones brought to the game by the other contestants and not the ones the show adds, usually wins. I say usually because there is an element of luck. There are some things, just like in life, you just cannot control no matter how hard you work, try , prepare, and want.
And while I am talking about life, this is huge reason I love Survivor. Some have described Survivor as a microcosm of life. I agree. Even though Survivor is a formulated show designed to generate audience interest by mixing people that are bound to conflict with each other, so many of the “principles” of playing Survivor, apply to life: alliances, unity, trust, deception, emotional control, plotting, scheming, changing sides, etc. Now, should you do all of these things? Maybe not, but it happens in life. You just need to decide how you will play your game. So, with this microcosm on the TV screen, I get a simplified model of life that is played in a fish bowl that lends to easier analysis and study than life. I get a view of interesting, which is very important, people I can study and learn from. From my TV view, and I know the producers purposefully want to lead me down a certain thought process, I often know things the players do not and I can see their thought process and form my hypothesis. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.
So there it is – a puzzle you are challenged to piece together. I can’t think of any other reality show with a more interesting puzzle to solve. Thank you Survivor. it’s seems strange to say, but you are a TV show that has shaped my actions, and by so doing, shaped my life. I hope there will be many more seasons, but even if there are not, the impact you have had on my life will never be forgotten.