Survivor, Amazing Race’s bizarre edits

It is no surprise that editors on reality series use footage out of order to construct narratives and episodes, but it’s fun to treasure hunt for clues and interesting to observe how we’re being manipulated in that moment. Sometimes, it’s inconsequential, but other times it’s used to make a point that may or may not be accurate, and there are examples of both from Survivor and The Amazing Race this fall. But both also seem bizarrely pointless.

On Wednesday’s episode of Survivor Blood vs. Water, Laura Boneham’s blurting out to Vytas that he was going to be voted out was presented as the reason why her alliance turned on her. But actually, the women had already decided to turn on her by that point, as Katie revealed, so the editing constructed an alternate motivation for the women’s decision.

Earlier this season, we heard a lot about how Laura Boneham did not fit in to her tribe after Rupert switched with her on the first day. But in episode five, the one in which Laura Morett was voted out, footage of Laura B. talking about being isolated from her tribe of returnees was actually taken from the first few days, as True Dork Times’ Jeff Pitman noticed. The clue? Her buff:

That the editors had to go back to footage from the very beginning of the season to make that same point in episode five, instead of using a clip from an interview filmed during the three days covered in episode five, suggests that it really wasn’t as much of an issue as the episodes would have us believe. Why, then, perpetuate that? Was there really so little footage to use that they had to play up something that was 20+ days old? (Incidentally, the same thing happened this week, as another of Laura B.’s confessionals was reused this week when she talked about Vytas being a threat.)

Meanwhile, on The Amazing Race, something truly amazing happened: A cab driver who appeared in episode three, set in Portugal, reappeared in episode five when the teams were in Poland.

As The Royal Half noticed, it was just the same footage from Poland; the background is identical in both clips. The editors gave one team, Nicky and Kim, a fake driver so that they could have a reaction shot for the women’s platonic kiss.

Footage of that is below. Why even bother faking that reaction? Did we really need to see a man react to their kiss? Of course, neither of these are anything like erasing a human being from a scene for no reason, as Big Brother did this summer.

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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.