Words from the last reality TV junkie

The rise of reality TV in the last 10 years has marked many top 10 lists summarizing our last decade. And before the big scare of Y2K we never knew the popularity that would become of (allegedly) unscripted TV. The success of reality TV is undeniable, with some of the highest ratings in the decade. Whether we see it as a social experiment or as a chance to find the hidden talent treasures of our country or as crap to fill the airwaves should we have another writers’ strike, I doubt reality TV will be leaving us anytime soon, giving us all hope that maybe, just maybe, we might too become famous.
Some feel nauseated at the mere thought of reality TV and, despite the success, it is quite apparent that this genre of programming is largely a public display of egotism and selfishness. When you look at the self-obsessed people who strut their way onto the Survivor island or into the Big Brother house, it’s unbelievable the characters you meet or the lies they have learned to believe about themselves. The young man who walks into the audition room to stand before Randy, Simon, Kara and the guest judge of the week truly believes that he is in fact going to be the next American Idol. In shock, he refuses to leave the stage only to be carried away by security kicking and screaming. These are the people that amuse us all while we “study” in our living rooms.
Idol, The Amazing Race, America’s Next Top Model, Big Brother and more have all found syndicated success in a number of countries. But after some reality shows in Europe in the late ‘90s, the one show that began the boom, the one show that has had some of the finest success in reality TV history is none other than the Jeff Probst Fantasy Island, more commonly known as Survivor.
Who could have ever imaged that the show that came out in the summer of 2000 would have such success? Survivor parties, obsessed fans, people studying the game as if it were a scientific discipline — all from three simple goals: outwit, outlast, outplay — three words which meant a whole lot less back in ’99.
This show was actually based on a Swedish show called Expedition Robinson, and so when Probst brought 16 millionaire-wannabes to Borneo, fingers were crossed that this formula would translate to North America as well. This is the show that brought us Richard Hatch, the naked winner of the first season who later went on to be convicted of tax evasion and actually went to prison for it.
What amazes me most about Survivor is that this year, Feb. 11 specifically, the 20th cycle of the show will air. Now, I may be the one person left still watching but I am a reality TV junkie. This is my guilty pleasure, and best of all, the 20th season is all about bring back favorites — both good and bad.
Titled “Heroes vs. Villians,” the castaways are all veterans of the game coming back for a second chance at beating the odds. They’ll be people who know the game, playing it harder because they know how, making it some of the best gameplay this show has seen in a while.
I am mainly excited that one of my personal favorites will be on the show. His name is Rupert. No, he isn’t the next young buck to be asked to go on the bachelor. He isn’t ripped or chiseled or buff. Rupert, who is a teddy bear, brought out his pirate side in Survivor: Pearl Islands. The very first episode he stole the other tribe’s shoes to sell for food, and with that he became an instant favorite for me.
Another favorite of mine who is playing on the side of the villains is Boston Rob. He married his final competitor and together they took on another good reality show, The Amazing Race. Now he’s looking at taking the game on again. He’s a cocky player, but he makes big moves and goes for it. However, the most notorious villain in survivor history Jonny “Fairplay” Dalton, lied about his grandmother’s death to gain sympathy. He’s returning to the game after having a kid, and with parenthood came a soft heart that forced him to leave the game early. Rob’s entering the game also a father now, and I’m hoping he doesn’t disappoint his fans in a similar ways as Fairplay.
If you’ve ever been a Survivor fan, this is the season to watch.