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Surviving Paradise tried to marry Love Island with Survivor, and produced a goose egg

Surviving Paradise tried to marry Love Island with Survivor, and produced a goose egg
Francisco and Shea aligning on Surviving Paradise (Image via Netflix)

“It’s all about getting to the top, but in this game, to get to the top, you have to start with nothing,” the host of Netflix’s Surviving Paradise tells its cast of hot dum-dums.

Nothing is pretty much what Surviving Paradise offers.

In the twist the audience knows about before the players do, the cast will not spend their first night in the fancy villa where they’re all standing, but “will be staying deep in that forest,” host Jessimae Peluso continues. “The conditions are tough.”

By the standard of reality TV survival shows, the conditions are not even measurable. They’re just laughable.

In the shallow woods located immediately behind a fancy villa, the cast has electric lanterns that illuminate their campsite; cots, hammocks, and sleeping bags positioned over a wood platform; and an ever-burning fire. There’s an outhouse stocked with toilet paper.

This isn’t even Survivor: Lite; it’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here: Influencer Edition.

Cots on a wood floor, with people wrapped in sleeping bags, so their heads are not visible
Surviving Paradise’s cast sleeping on their cots, in sleeping bags, on a platform installed for them in the “woods” (Image via Netflix)

The most-obvious comparison, though, is Love Island. I understand why this exists, because the pitch is right there: Love Island plus Survivor. Or maybe Love Island, but the hot dummies vote each other into the woods.

Love Island still exists on ITV in the U.K. and Peacock in the U.S., where it’s about to launch a new spin-off, Love Island Games.

Netflix doesn’t have enough of its own hot dummies in paradise shows, so it has partnered with Studio Lambert (creators of The Circle and the US and UK versions of The Traitors) and Raw TV (producers of Gold Rush) for this new competition.

I wish they hadn’t. It’s not bad, it’s just empty. There’s nothing here. The cast is as beautiful and inert as the coastline of Greece.

There is a game. It begins as each player casts one vote for one other person to return to the villa. The person with the most votes chooses three others to join them.

People clink champagne glasses while laughing
Lellies and Shea celebrating something on Netflix’s Surviving Paradise (Image via Netflix)

Surviving Paradise felt to me like one of those unfortunate parodies of reality TV shows, where someone tries to script and fictionalize the absurdity of reality TV, and just falls flat.

I’m not accusing the cast of being actors—that lazy response to reality TV actually annoys me—but the way their interactions and reactions are edited, they come across like speaking extras on SNL.

The production, though, actively makes everything seem phony. The woods are lit with studio lights that make the cast stand out against the backdrop, like they’re being filmed in front of a green screen.

The editing tries too hard. The music accompanying the slow motion walk to the first vote, for example, is unnecessarily dramatic.

A person in a purple dress standing expressionless
Surviving Paradise host Jessimae Peluso, with the same expression I had while watching this show (Image via Netflix)

Meanwhile, the soundbites from the cast and host are so thin they crumble if you think about them:

  • “The game is really tough,” someone says, before anything has happened.
  • “I don’t know how the game is going to go just yet, but best believe, this is where it changes,” Lellies says.
  • “The friendships and alliances you’ve made matter,” the host says. “But can you trust the bonds that you’ve formed? Or is everyone around you playing a game?”

We’ve been told repeatedly this is a game for which they need to form alliances, but now they have to watch out for people playing the game? Huh?

A person looking shocked and holding her hands next to her face
Lellies reacts to Surviving Paradise’s big twist (Image via Netflix)

Even more painfully, at one point, the show tries to pretend there’s some kind of moral lesson here.

The producers have Jessimae say: “How will you treat people on the way up, and how will you treat them on the way down? It matters in life, and it matters here.”

Does it though? Are there really consequences for those who stomp all over people to get to their multimillion dollar villas?

People dancing and holding drinks next to a pool and in front of a brightly lit bar
Surviving Paradise’s cast—Linda, Alexis, Taylor, Justin, Copan, Aaron, Tabitha, and Cisco—dances and drinks (Image via Netflix)

I found myself wishing Surviving Paradise was not just better, but actually worse—over-the-top dumb, or funny, or something. Anything. Other similar Netflix shows have personalities, like the fake AI manipulating the horny hotties on Too Hot to Handle.

This, however, is a show in search of a reason for existing—and in search of a coherent format.

The preview for Surviving Paradise’s season, and the episode descriptions, tease elimination challenges, new cast members, and just random twists like the villa people voting to send someone back to camp, or voting to eliminate an outside or an insider.

There’s clearly no plan here, no larger design that pulls the threads together. Surviving Paradise is just random chunks of other reality TV shows thrown against a wall and hoping it’ll keep our attention for long enough to please Netflix’s algorithm.

Surviving Paradise

A pointless mash-up of Love Island and survival shows that has nothing to offer. F

What works for me:

  • Some really beautiful cinematography of Greece

What could be better:

  • A coherent format
  • The incorporation of something original
  • More challenging survival conditions
  • A personality

Correction: This review initially said Netflix does not have any hot dummies in paradise shows; they have quite a few. That sentence has been updated.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

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Happy discussing!

Ms. A.

Tuesday 24th of October 2023

This program, makes me really appreciate the 2 Years I lived IN the woods, building our own shelters at an alternative school from age 15-17. The majority of these kids are so spoiled you would think they've been sent to a hard labor prison. I do think their diet was a very bad choice by Netflix idiots , not understanding they need more nutrients to even stay mentally fit. So far the Outsiders have had to do nothing really, except plot how to get back to the villa. The Insiders so far, are a prime and sad example of self-centeredness, thumbing their noses at their fellow game players, making fun of them being out. They are completely sickening to watch. As for the Outsiders, not one of them has thought to put some branches over the captive chickens, to make them a little more comfortable with some shade. More of that self centered thinking they all seemed to have been raised with again. They themselves havnt even thought to create any shelter in case of...rain. I have to agree with your assessment of this this as simply bad and unoriginal, getting boring fast. Thank you.

Michael G

Monday 23rd of October 2023

“… Netflix doesn’t have its own hot dummies in paradise show…”

Except for “Too Hot to Handle” and “Perfect Match”, plus the Korean import “Single’s Inferno”.

Andy Dehnart

Monday 23rd of October 2023

Oh, good point! Edited to adjust! I think I was thinking of those more as dating shows, but the Love Island connection is also there.