The 'Survivor' and 'Amazing Race' Guide to Dealing with the Economy
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
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By Susan Young,

Could it be the recession that has me all giddy about not one, but two of my favorite reality shows popping up this week?

Survivor: Tocantins kicks off the reality treats at 8pm Thursday on CBS by placing 16 castaways in the wilds of the Brazilian Highlands. Even before they can meet and make alliances that can carry them past the merge, these unsuspecting souls get divvied up into two separate tribes and immediately have to cut two tribe members.

It’s sort of like the last round of layoffs at any given work place. The tribe has spoken - now let the security guard waltz you off the premises. No, we don't care that you weren't given a shot at proving your worth, we just need you to be elsewhere. And don't try to grab any E-Bay worthy souvenirs on your way out of the jungle.

That's life in the downsized lane. But maybe they are just getting a work furlough. A little note in the press release mentions that "one person from each tribe will be chosen to remain behind and will not continue with their group on the journey that lies ahead. Will this mean the end for these two individuals or will they get a second chance to make a first impression?"


We all know what happens when people come back after getting the boot. There's a collective foot stomping amid cries of "This isn't fair." Oh, we know what isn't fair my friend. It's watching the banking industry take our hard earned dollars and whizz it away on bonuses for people who think that nothing less than a million dollar addition to their pay is even worth the effort to cash the check.

Imagine what these hard-working Survivors think about someone coming in with the ability to snatch their million dollar payday away. It's gong to get bitter and ugly. Bring it on, Survivor.

Perhaps because the old codgers have been able to snatch the crown away from the young 'uns, the producers seem to have stacked the collective deck with more eye candy this time around. There's only one competitor over 50, and that's a 53-year-old bus driver from Louisville, Kentucky, and only two competitors in their 40s. The rest are all models and other pretty people in their 20s and 30s.

The only slightly chubby member of the group is Tamara "Taj" Johnson – George who is described as a former pop star. She gained fame in the 1990s with SWV – Sisters With Voices – even getting a Grammy nomination back in 1994 for Best New Artist.

It's obvious why Taj is doing Survivor: The group looks like it is staging a comeback and she's scheduled to do a touring company gig of The Vagina Monologues. And she's probably aware that this is the best show on the air for losing weight and getting in shape.

Don't talk Biggest Loser to me. Survivor has peeled the pounds off every contestant in the history of the show, some making Kate Moss look like a chunky little monkey.

And let's face it, it's kind of comforting watching people trying to forage for food when you might be going through the same thing after layoffs and furloughs. Besides, they brought it on themselves. Starve, Survivor suckers, starve! Well, at least until you get those tasty bonus feasts. Kind of like when the unemployment check rolls in.

On the other hand, when The Amazing Race starts up at 8pm Sunday on CBS, it's all vicarious living. Check out the exotic locales, laugh at the bumblers as they traipse through uncharted territories. Nothing's sweeter than the prospect of seeing Hollywood stuntmen get snuffed by cocky models.

There may be no lavish travels in your recession future, but that doesn't mean you can kick back in front of the HD and live life fully. It reminds me of something Scott Adams of Dilbert once said to me: "Travel is kind of wasted on me because I've already seen most places on TV. When I get there, it never looks much different from what I saw on TV, and usually it looks better on TV. And I didn't have to put up with the packing and the other headaches."

Like figuring out how to pay for the trip.

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