The six people who regularly read my blog should know by now that I’m obsessed with reality TV. As in, it’s probably unhealthy how much reality TV I watch and follow on a regular basis. I read a blog dealing with the subject several times a day and actively care about the fact that The Amazing Race has won six straight Emmy’s for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program when it no longer deserves it. In fact, I think it’s quite clear that Top Chef, Survivor, or even Project Runway have surpassed it in quality. I yelled out loud when Jeff Probst (deservedly) won the first Emmy for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program on Sunday night. As a result, it should come as no surprise that I am creepily excited about the new Survivor debuting tomorrow night.
I have never missed an episode of Survivor. Ever. In sixteen seasons, I have watched every single person leave the show, whether they quit, got med-evaced, had their torch snuffed, or won the entire show. To be brutally honest, I’ve even used seasons’ theme songs for work out mixes. Shockingly enough, high energy tribal voices set to fast-paced drum beats are great for running. I can name every single contestant, every single tribe (with colors to boot), and every single winner in the history of the show. So I feel it’s safe to say I am sufficiently stoked for the new cast of 18 castaways to throw themselves into the midst of the best social and mental challenge on TV today. And relying on the precedent that I established in the Uncle Becky post, I am all kinds of awesome, so no one is allowed to judge me on any criteria reserved for your average friend.
To be sure, I would love to actually be a contestant on Survivor. I can’t imagine something that would be more fun than spending seven or eight weeks in an exotic location, challenging yourself to literally destroy everyone around you on the way to winning a million dollars.* My motivation to play the game wouldn’t really have anything to do with the money. I’m not gonna lie, half a mil would definitely help out with student loans and getting myself started once I left graduate school. However, if I were completely honest, my psychotic need to win and compete would be my ultimate motivation to even apply for the spot. I want the bragging rights that go along with crawling my way to the top of 15, 17, 19 other competitors who were there to stop me on my way to winning. I want the pride that would go along with knowing that I was the best player out there.
So let’s get one thing straight, here and now. That game is not about being nice, it’s about lying. It’s a game that involves keeping yourself one step ahead of every other player out there from the very beginning. That said, all the people that say they would “lie, cheat, and steal” to win the money are fucking delusional. Everyone is there to lie, and there isn’t a single winner in the past sixteen seasons that can honestly say they never lied to another contestant in the game. As for cheating or stealing, it’s practically impossible in the context of the game. The only rules are you can’t punch someone and you can’t conspire to split the money. Explain to me how one would cheat under those circumstances.
This game is built on being ruthless, on throwing other people under the bus in order to get yourself ahead. The glory of the game is that it’s all social, it’s all a fundamentally political game. The trick to winning is that you have to get rid of everyone in the game and have them like you in the end. At the very least, they have to hate you less than the other person or persons sitting next to you at final Tribal Council. There is no bad winner of Survivor, because there is no set way to win the game. Every person who won the game did so because the jury who played the game with them voted for their victory. It may have been close (Hatch versus Kelly, Tina versus Colby) or one could have totally dominated (Earl and Jenna come to mind), but the jury decided that their winner truly played the game best.
So how would I play? Here’s a quick list of the finest points of strategy –
– I wouldn’t be the leader, but I sure as hell wouldn’t put myself on the outs. I’d set myself up as the fun guy, the one with two or three other people in a clique.
– I would be loyal to one person and one person only, and I’d use the other two as pocket votes, distractions or targets for the other players to go after instead of me.
– The key to winning is the ability to adapt. You can never rely too heavily on a winning streak.
– Never, ever go out of your way to piss people off. It’s never necessary and it almost always comes back to bite your ass in the end.
– When it comes to winning challenges, go all out for a few so you’re not skating through, but don’t make yourself seem like a threat to other players.
– As for those last two immunities? You bet I would be all over them.
Overall, I would dominate every single person out there because I would be the most adaptive player, the most manipulative player, the one who would be borderline sociopathic in my lack of loyalty or concern for other people. You have to see the players as they are – pawns that will get your name written on a million dollar check when it counts. Who you are in that game is not who you are in real life, and the people who know you best will know that. Who cares what America thinks?
Sound heartless? I couldn’t really care less, especially if it means I win.
* More like $565,000 or so. For serious, how much do they get?