Survivor drops its balls and some dead weight

Between the four combinations of two tribes we’ve had over seven episodes and the increasing stupidity of those who are left, I feel like I’m the stupid one when I watch what’s unfolding on Survivor One World sometimes. Who’s in what alliance? Who is that?

Let’s start with how many twits there are, like Jay, who basically turned into a third grader scolding a puppy when Tarzan tried to have some coffee. “NO! NO! YOU DIDN’T WIN THIS. I DID. NO!” Seriously, is there a bigger tool than Jay this season? I realize that’s it’s like I’m standing in a Home Depot and asking that question.

Kat, bless her sweet heart, voted out “Jonous,” while Tarzan horrified Chelsea by throwing his poopy underwear into a boiling pot of water in which she was sanitizing her freshly-cleaned clothes. How interesting that they do laundry! And how interesting that we got so much time on that–and were also treated to a full-length opening sequence with the post-merge tribe members all featured? It’s almost like there wasn’t enough material to fill 43 minutes.

But there was drama. Jay and Tarzan also got into an absurdly immature fight over strategy, which was edited by CBS to remove a reference to Jonas’ race. Tarzan threatened to “drop out of the tribe,” which isn’t what he actually meant. They later made up and Tarzan literally cried. Then he forgot that he cared and voted out Jonas along with the rest of the tribe.

Getting rid of Jonas is not necessarily a bad idea, and I do understand what the women on the model tribe are trying to do: they want both their original tribe and their second tribe intact, to give them the most power and flexibility. That’s pretty smart. But we’re at the merge, and letting someone who’s physically strong stick around could be problematic. Then again, there are 128 people left.

Jonas’ attempt to save himself at Tribal Council was both fantastic and an epic fail. He basically just started saying everything out loud, like Chunk in Goonies. First he said, “I’m proposing to those people who know what I’m talking about” vote for Mike, he said. Tarzan wisely observed that Jonas “may have thrown himself over the bus,” and flip-flopped between whether Jonas was safe or should be voted out, not that it was in his hands anyway. Jonas should have stabbed Tarzan in the front, since Tarzan seemed to be on everyone’s last nerve. But what’s clear is the group is making low-stakes decisions at this point, and at the bottom of the pile, Jonas is more of a threat than the guy who soils your laundry.

The reward challenge asked the tribe to split up into two separate, new, randomly selected tribes. Hmm. Considering the surprising early merge, I wondered if this challenge indicated that the producers initially intended to have the tribes still separated at this point, although they certainly have done team-based reward challenges post-merge before. (Update: Probst confirmed that the merge was supposed to happen the next day, but was moved up because of Colton’s evac.)

Hilariously, the tribe divided randomly into dummies versus non-dummies, and the dummies sent Leif first to dig a hole that they’d all have to climb through. And Leif, bless his stupidity, dug a hole that wasn’t even big enough for him, even though his whole team would have to go through it, and then he went in face first, stomach down–and got stuck, because bodies don’t bend like that. The dummies nearly caught up, however, but having Jonas and Tarzan solve their puzzle guaranteed that the other team would win the reward of pizza and beer–and a secret mystery note! Ooh.

I have an idea for how the next hidden immunity idol should be introduced. As the reward challenge winner(s) is/are reading the clue, a producer should take the idol and throw it at the clue-reader’s head. That would be more subtle and surprising than what we’ve been seeing for the past few seasons. Remember when it was impressive when Russell Hantz would find hidden immunity idols? Now it’s a joke. You just walk up to any tree and stick your hand in its hole and there’s an idol. That’s what Troyzan did, and now he thinks he has $1 million because of it. By the way, did we really need two hidden immunity idols in play right now?

Here’s one thing we do need: More challenges involving balls and discs. While this challenge was a variation on ones we’ve seen before, I think it was designed entirely to amuse third graders like me as Jeff Probst did play-by-play, from telling them “grab your balls” to gems such as “Michael with balls hanging on both sides of his disc,” “Kim loses a ball,” “Tryozan’s balls haven’t moved in a long time,” and “Leif drops a ball.” Troyzan ended up winning, and got all excited that holding onto his balls longest meant he got some action: “You’re touching me. Jeff Probst!” Yes, to win Probst’s affection, you have to handle your balls just right.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.


Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.