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What Makes the Game

May 17, 2019 No Comments
  • Photo used by courtesy of CBS SURVIVOR.

SURVIVOR has been on the air for 19 years, 38 seasons, 568 episodes, and who knows how many torch-snuffs and blindsides. So what makes this show, this game, such an everlasting piece of reality television? Unpredictability: the Human Element.

570 contestants have competed on SURVIVOR. That’s 570 human variables that unexpectedly can explode a game in ways the crew never imagined. That is what makes SURVIVOR the ultimate reality show. Well, there’s plenty of other reality shows with an ever-changing cast. True, but hear me out. Out in the elements hustling for survival, for food and shelter, people are pushed to their physical limit. Add in the mental toll of strategy, game play, and social engagement and you truly are tested to your core about who you are and what you are willing to do to survive.

This season’s Edge of Extinction presented another layer to the mix. Remember Exile Island? Edge of Extinction brought an entire cast to Exile Island with the promise on one player returning to the game, the trick; you had to have the will to survive and beat out every other person. By now everyone knows Chris Underwood won SURVIVOR: Edge of Extinction, and it is an impressive feat when he spent technically 26 day out of the game and winning with 3 bold moves.

What about all of this makes my fangirl heart sing? Because no one could have guessed it. Following the shrieks of OH MY GOSH! to NO WAY! and finally screaming in amazement, I have to say that final 5 tribal was something for the books. However, that was the human experiment at its rawest. In order to win, Chris had to risk it all, to push himself to the point where he was willing and ready to risk everything in order to put himself further in that game. For that, he deserves the title of Sole Survivor.

The unpredictability of people, of emotions as they bubble to the surface, when hidden fears and long buried past come to haunt you; that is when SURVIVOR becomes real, when it becomes more than a show— it becomes a cultural phenomena. We connect as an audience, to each other and to the contestants whose stories we watch unfold, whose journeys we follow with rapt attention. That is what makes SURVIVOR the ultimate reality show, the king of television. Because no matter what age, race, identity; we always find a story, a narrative threaded throughout SURVIVOR that we connect with. The Human Element is stripped down and bare, something that reveals all of us and not just the contestants, it leaves no where to hide, but through that we challenges ourselves to do more, to be better, to realize social engagement is more than just a conversation, its building a community. SURVIVOR has striped down the world as we know it and presents our world in a way that is primal, that brings us back to the things that matter: survival and community.

At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter who wins, despite our cheers or heckles, it comes down to one thing: Survive, and we can’t do it alone.

That’s all for now Fangirls and Fanboys,



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Ca·su·al-Fan·girl - someone chasing their dreams and living life to the fullest. My name is Camille and I am currently an MFA student in Writing for Children and Young Adults. I know enough about many things to live dangerously and have a good time exploring the best things in life. Thanks for coming on this fun adventure! Read More

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