Survivor has always billed itself as the greatest social experiment in reality television. Given that moniker Survivor making interesting casting choices is rather inevitable. When it comes Survivor: Worlds Apart and seasons with other similar casting choices it has not worked out in the show’s favor. We have already examined sexism and rather unsavory aspects on Survivor: Worlds Apart so we won’t reiterate them here. Suffice to say, the cast has said say things that have made them problematic at best and incredibly unlikable at worst. This is about why the casting gimmicks like the one found in Worlds Apart hinder the show as a social experiment.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
For those unfamiliar with Survivor: Worlds Apart, the producers decide to separate the castaways based on occupation. So there was a tribe of blue collar, white collar and no collar. This is not the first Survivor has organized tribes based on a homogeneous group. There was the infamous time that they separated tribes based on race in Survivor: Cook Islands. They have also been tribe organizations like young vs. old, beauty vs. brains vs. brawn or a battle of the sexes.
While some of these seasons and gimmicks have had their merits, they all contain a similar flaw. The best part of their seasons came when the tribes merged and mixed and the similarity was traded in for diversity.
Survivor is About Diversity Not Similarity
The core of Survivor is not people of similar backgrounds and beliefs building a community whilst competing for a million dollars. Survivor is people of all different walks of life learning how to live with one another and trying to win the million dollars. When Survivor separates the tribes based on what they have in common, the diversity of the game is removed from the very start. It turns the beginning of a season into a waiting game. It’s just killing time until the real interesting part where people merge and that’s detrimental to the show.
That’s not to say the tribes are without conflict. The Blue Collar Tribe of Survivor: Worlds Apart couldn’t go a day with fighting among themselves loudly and boisterously. It simply robs Survivor of the variety that makes it special.
10 TV Characters We’d Want to Be Stuck on a Deserted Island With>>>
The Problem of Dominance
While this is the major reason why the elaborate casting gimmicks have reached their expiration date. There is a symptom that leaps off of this larger problem. When the season is organized this way, there is tendency for one tribe to dominate the others when it comes to immunity. While the Blue Collar tribe was a mess inter-personally in Survivor:Worlds Apart, they largely dominated challenges. As a result they made it to merge largely intact.
While it could be argued that is all a part of fair competition and it’s a compelling point. It doesn’t change the fact that tribe organization upped the likeliness of the scenario. The season was set up in such a way that it was more likely for one subset of people to make it farther than another. When certain types of people are competing against one another, it stands to reason that one group will be more successful than the other. Survivor isn’t a melting pot show anymore but one about Social Darwinsm. It’s about determining which of these groups are “better” not how they interact with one another.
Changes are Necessary
I’m not suggesting that Survivor cease creative casting altogether. The unique ideas when it comes to casting keeps Survivor fresh each season despite its very long run. I’m suggesting to stop separating tribes based on certain ideology, race or belief. Survivor should cast people from all different walks of life with all different points of view. They just should be interacting from the moment they hit the mat and Jeff Probst welcomes to the game.
The newly announced season that will completely chosen by fan vote looks interesting. It’s undeniably a casting stunt but the pool of potential castaways is wide and diverse that it should avoid the problems of this season.
(images courtesy of CBS)