When I met Andy, one of the first things I learned about him was that he watched the show Survivor.
“You watch Survivor?” I scoffed. “I didn’t even know that was still on TV!”
“Have you ever watched Survivor?” he asked.
“No,” I scoffed more.
“You have to watch one season with me,” he said. “Then you can scoff all you want.”
I have watched every season since.
Survivor is a great show and a great game. Usually though, every season, you run into some nasty people. I don’t mean that they lie and betray their friends and blindside people. Just about everyone on Survivor lies and betrays their friends and blindsides people. But some people do those things and additionally, they are nasty. They are misogynistic, or malicious, or unnecessarily vindictive. They aren’t very fun to watch.
But this season, which ended last Wednesday, was amazing because there was hardly any of that behavior. Even though all the players were hungry and under a lot of stress and were constantly blindsiding each other, for the most part they were very kind.
And that didn’t make it a boring season! There were lots of surprises and shake ups. They all played hard. They just respected each other even as they were playing hard. It was fantastic television.
Beyond that, the foundation of respect created some incredible moments. One of the players came out to another player. Two of the guys, who were usually normally on opposing alliances, confided in each other that both of their moms were very sick. They trusted each other in real life, even as they working against each other in the game.
The roughest the game got was when a couple of the players were struggling with anxiety. One player had a panic attack during a challenge when she was sitting on the sidelines. People were giving her a hard time about that, even though panic attacks by their very nature don’t make sense. Another time a guy got made fun of for his anxiety during a tribal council.
Those were not great moments, but they were mostly quick moments of people acting out of character. Both of those players received a lot of support during the game, and afterwards they talked about how Survivor helped them grow in confidence and fight through their anxiety, which is awesome.
When the season ends, they announce what the theme of the next season is going to be. Andy and I wanted them to just do this season, again.
Sometimes in life we are tempted to think that goodness is boring, and evil is spicy and exciting. This is probably especially true when it comes to reality TV. This season of Survivor was a good reminder that you don’t need immature people with nasty behavior to make fascinating television. Instead you can bring on great people who will create great moments that will blow the mean-spirited drama out of the water. nd I will be here for it.