reality TV reviews and news

Survivor is pretty, and pretty boring

Jessica and Cole and sand on Survivor. (Screen capture via CBS)

I don’t know what to do with Survivor when it’s boring. It’s the show that’s kept my attention for 17 years, which is a remarkable achievement, considering my short attention span and high expectations—which are even higher for a show that has demonstrated its ability to be exceptional.

I like character development. I don’t want the producers to intervene and manipulate the players or throw in poorly conceived twists.

I’m grateful that this season hasn’t overplayed the healers/heroes/hustlers thing and made every single moment about that. I like humanizing moments.

Fiji is gorgeous. So are the pretty people in wonderful producer-selected wardrobe.

But shallow showmances and objectively bad players (Patrick) are dull. On-screen conversation about who’s hot and who’s not need to be grounded in something, but this season everything’s just been floating on the surface.

Jessica is Cole’s “dream girl.” Devon and Ryan think they’re in charge. Joe worries about “lovebirds.” Lauren stereotypes redheads. Tribal Council lasts forever with no forward movement.

Wake me up when something happens, please.

It’s tempting to blame the cast for being dull and blending together, but the editing is doing them no favors, flitting between showmances and not focusing on much of anything.

This episode was the third in a row where things just aren’t clicking yet for me, and it feels like we’re treading water instead of building to something. 

Having only one challenge didn’t help, and the way to really ramp up the tension and excitement was not to make the challenge just about stacking blocks.

I was pleasantly surprised that the red tribe finally voted out Patrick; based on the editing of the first two episodes, where the challenge failure was identified as a scapegoat/Tribal Council red herring, I fully expected him to stay and Lauren to go home. But as angry as Patrick was, that did not qualify as a blindside, at least not for us.

At Tribal Council, when she wasn’t criticizing Patrick for his hair color instead of his actions, Lauren said, “We have to lose together, and we need to win together, and today we didn’t lose together.”

We all lost an hour. Does that count?

Seriously, though: I suppose that’s true of Survivor. Just as we all get to be thrilled and entertained together when the show is at its best, we’ll make it through the boring parts (episode? seasons?) together, too.

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