I watch Survivor every season and watching the finale is probably my least favorite part. Even if my personal favorite wins (which has happened every once in a while), I can’t take the tension. While I realize that Survivor’s cultural relevance has dwindled to basically nothing, I still think it’s one of the most suspenseful and well-edited shows out there.
In some ways, I like it better when there’s no one I’m enamored with. It takes the stomach-churning tension out of the season finale (shut up — I get really worked up over these things), knowing that there’s no way I’ll be disappointed after a whole season of waiting. This was one of those seasons.
For the purposes of this post, the three finalists can be described thusly: Susie the Mom, Bob the Physics Teacher and Sugar the Blonde (just go with it). Bob won, although Sugar proved to be the more diabolical player. Everyone loved him and played the role of tribe work horse, wisely avoided the timeless trap of the elder players yelling about the young folks being lazy and playing with their abs.
So, I won’t do a breakdown here because the season’s over, but I did want to address the most noteworthy thing about this season: the abhorrent social behavior. While there were generally few people this season worth getting excited about, two contestants competed for the title of ‘worst person to ever be on the show.’ Corinne and Randy were two unique snowflakes of hideous behavior, each finding their own ways to alienate their fellow contestants and the viewing audience.
Randy was an out and out disaster — actively terrorizing anyone who he came into contact with. In particular, he clashed with Crystal, eventually making a pretty shocking racial comment a tribal council (referring to her and booted contestant GC’s “posse”). By the end of his game, his behavior had grown so cartoonish he (failingly) tried to use it as a strategy.
So, while Randy’s antisocial leanings are a function of his inherent misanthropy — he has no social skills and never has — Corinne can “pass” as a human being until you realize she’s mentally ill. During interviews on the finale she attempted to explain her behavior essentially by saying that it’s better to be hated and remembered (rather than liked and forgotten). And she certainly won’t be. The turning point came during the final tribal when she told Sugar basically to “stop crying about [her] dead father.” It was shocking, but she basically just proved that she’d rather have negative attention than none at all.
In the future, Survivor would do well to avoid casting people like Randy and Corinne.
People continually shit on the show, but I’ve stuck with it because I find the game play intriguing and the curveballs they constantly throw at the contestants keep things interesting. I think the social relationships are tremendously fun to watch. But casting such mean-spirited people can take the fun out out of the whole affair. These people may cause conflict, but I don’t really have any interest in watching exploitation (a trap shows like Big Brother repeatedly fall into).
So, the show goes to Brazil in February — let’s see if they can successfully cast a diverse set of alpha-personalities (Survivor doesn’t cast betas — that rules out most bloggers) that don’t have personality disorders.
4 comments December 15th, 2008