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since May of 2000. The 22nd season is currently airing and it has been renewed for (at least) two more. The premise of the show revolves around a group of people who have been marooned at some isolated location and must survive by providing food and shelter for themselves, while competing in physical challenges and eliminated players until a final player is awarded a monetary prize. (Slide 2) Just a short history here, like any great American reality show nowadays, it seems to have found life somewhere else entirely. The original concept was created by Charlie Parsons, a British tv producer and was called Expedition Robinson. That show first aired in Sweden in 1997 and in case you were wondering it still airs today. (Slide 3) Each season begins with two tribes, although three season started out with three or four tribes, before finally being merged into one tribe mid-way through the season. Two types of challenges exist in each episode, the Reward Challenge, where one tribe or person is receives food, car, time with a loved one, etc rand the immunity challenge in which one tribe or person is saved from that week s elimination. At the end of every episode, there is tribal council and the players vote someone off. At the last tribal council a jury decided between the remaining two or three players with the winner receiving a million dollar prize. Throughout the seasons, the rules and format of the shows have changed, in order to keep things fresh. Luxury items seems to be a thing of the past and exile island is the it things. Fans favourite players have even come back in four special seasons, eventhough the show hasn t been around for that long. Despite this new elements, the show, at its core, remains virtually unchanged. Reality Television or Game Show (Slide 4) There are many genres of reality television shows. While some focus on just watching groups of people living out their lives, some are dating show, talk shows, prank shows even renovation shows and are usually nothing more than just some elaborate social experiments. The reality television phenomenon is that is sweeping mainly though network stations is really a hybrid of reality based television and game shows. (Slide 5) Survivor is prime example of this hybrid, similar to the real world, the surreal life, or wife swap you see a bunch of strangers living together and the challenges and problems that arise from throwing a group into an unknonwn situation. At the same time though, the contestant are competing against one
another in order to be the last one standing and receiving a million dollars, which is ultimately what game show or competition shows are. (Slide 6) How does Survivor differ from other shows? No one can deny that while we all know the shows are scripted and/or edited to highlight these moments, there is a reason why the show focuses on them. While shows like The Real World brought people together in a social experiment, Mark Burnett, the creator of the Survivor, decided to take that one step further. He said it was easy to get good television out of people being forced to live together and admitted that he thought he could make great television by making it worse for them. He took the hybrid of reality show and competition show one step further, therefore making it one of the first show to popularize the watching of someone else s real pain as entertainment. (Slide 7) Value Systems and Pleasure in Watching Someone Suffer This says something about the value systems of our society. What does it say about us when we take pleasure in watching someone suffering. This isn t a new trend in reality tv though, we ve been watching people getting hurt on Amercia s Funniest Video long before Survivor and the rest of the reality-tv gang came around. This appears to be an underlying theme in any reality show and a reason why I believe that reality shows are so popular. In a way, it s how we make ourselves feel good about who we are and what we do. We can look at the people on tv and say that you would never do that or that you could do it better. (Slide 8) Influences of Survivor Survivor wasn t the first show in which pleasure in suffering for entertainment value was used and it surely will not the last. You can see influences of Survivor in other reality shows, such as Big Brother which was relative tamer and more boring in the first seasons but now follows the format of how can I make this worse for the contestants and even going so far as to having challenges similar to Survivor. (Slide 9) Similarly, MTV has even jumped on the Survivor-like bandwagon when they combined two of their hit shows, The Real World and Road Rules. However , it wasn t until the 7th season, known as the Gauntlet, that the teams no longer travelled in buses and rvs in between challenges and when voting to eliminate teammates started to happen. Coincidentally, in this season of Survivor, you can see influences of the MTV series in which players who are chosen for elimination, challenge each other for the right to stay in the game. (Slide 10)
Understanding the Survivor format is quite easy and can transcend cultures and time. Survivor is not only appealing to the market in which it began but has spread throughout the world and several different version in many countries exist. Survivor may not have gotten as popular as it did if it aired 20 years ago, but it is still a show that would have been appealing back then. Would the effects be the same a couple decades from now? Probably not, since trends in television viewing change but it does appear that reality shows are here to stay at least for the foresable future. (Slide 11) The influence of Survivor has even been seen on the animated series The Simpsons in their episode Helter Shelter, when the family participated in The 1895 Challenge when they went lived in a Victorian house and pretended to be living as people did in 1895. (Slide 12) Hyppereality While reality television is supposed to be showing up a reality, you never really get a true sense of reality. All survivor does it offer up a hyperreal version of what it would be like to be marooned. In the first few seasons the contestants were dropped off with a crate with some essentials before the show finally moved to a format that was more fitting of really ended up in the middle of nowhere with nothing. If you actually washed up on a beach on some deserted island, there would be a good chance you wouldn t have tools at your disposal or have taken time to do survival training first. Also you surely wouldn t be scheming behind other people s backs to vote them off the island.
(Slide 13) Survivor as Commodity Survivor is also something that can succeed outside of it s reality tv genre. It has been made into a commodity, just like everything else in pop culture seems to be. A wide range of merchandise bearing the Survivor logo is available, but what I find really make Survivor a commodity is the fact that there have been Survivor computer and board games made, a thrill ride and even a musical, which allows audience members to participate in the whole Survivor experiences without having to go on the show.
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Survivor number of seasons, network it aired on and general premise of show y 22 seasons y Airs on CBS y Contestants marooned in isolated location, competing in physical for a million dollars Original concept is a show called Expidition Robinson More in-depth explanation of what Survivor is, explaining general elements y 2 tribes that later merge into 1 y 2 kinds of physical challenges: Reward and Immunity y Tribal Council y Elimination of one contestant per episode Types of Reality Shows y Talk shows, prank shows, dating shows, game shows, social experiments Survivor is a hybrid y Social Experiment + Game Show (Paraphrased from something read online) Survivor takes the social experiment a step further. According to Mark Burnett I wanted to force people to live together and then wondered how I could make it worse for them Survivor was the beginning of reality show in which viewers took pleasure in watching other suffer. Influences of Survivor The evolution of MTV s The Road Rules Survivor airing in different countries Simpsons Helter Selter episode Hyppereality (not sure how I would turn this into a slide) Survivor as a Commodity y Merchandising y Computer and Board Games y Musical
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