Tag Archives: reality tv

Naked & Afraid, Discovery Channel

Was watching the first two episodes of this last night. I kind of like the show’s concept, although it’s even more compressed than Survivor–three weeks compressed into forty minutes of edited episode. Short summary: abandoned naked, with a bag and one survival tool of choice. Shortly meeting up with another person of the opposite sex, similarly outfitted. The pair must reach an extraction point within twenty-one days, living off the land.

One trend I do not like so far, in our limited sample base, is the Jerk Male Factor. The first guy was basically a self-admitted misanthrope who had a sort of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle attitude, looking at the experienced survival teacher he was paired with as Jane. Yeah, it’s no great revelation that women rarely equal men in size, strength, bone mass, skin toughness and so on. And yet it’s a team effort, in which either person could on short notice have to rely upon the other for the most intimate personal care; where two can always achieve more than either alone.

I grant that a good number of men are stupid enough not to grasp this immediately upon peeling down to the Eden ensemble, but it’s hard to imagine this slowness of perception continuing very long. Hoping to see some guys on the show who start the adventure with the attitude that their partner probably has knowledge they do not. So far, as so often in life, the women are turning out to be the grownups in the room.

The naked aspect is cool, forcing them to deal with issues like foot care. The SF guy who made the bark sandals had the right idea, which makes me wonder: why, in an area full of dropped acacia thorns (which are about the size of needle-tipped Olympic javelins), did that not become a priority sooner? “We must focus on water!” Yeah, tough guy, and if you come up lame, you will never reach that water. Hard to fathom–and he spent 2/3 of the experience barely able to walk due to a badly infected thorn in his foot. Interesting that Ms. Minnesota made a fair effort to make something like a bikini, to cover up for Tarzan and the cams. Ms. Alaska just let it all hang out, including sitting in the murky creek with her legs spread, fishing barehanded–catching three catfish. Now you see why I married an Alaskan woman.

This may be a lot of fun to watch, depending on who they cast. If it were on Fox, you know it would forever be brain-damagingly predictable and transparent, and follow the exact same pattern as we have seen: Sexist Pig First Oinks Loudly, Then Learns His Lesson In Gender Humility. Fox is incapable of presenting anything to challenge the minds of the hyenas on the second episode of N&A, much less a human being with an eighth grade education. Not sure how Discovery’s track record is in this area. If they get the right varieties of people in casting, it could get interesting. Let us see some diversity in attitudes, skills, strengths and ethnicity.

My wife, of course, when she learns that I watch this, will probably offer more succinct commentary about my lack of taste. Then she’ll see my observation about Alaska’s women. If there are no blog posts for a week after July 4 weekend, please send someone over to investigate my fate.

Survivor: Redemption Island, episode 2

Still not sold on this Redemption Island concept.  The strings of Survivor are really showing.

I have a high school friend (pretty small number that can claim that) who works in Hollywood.  It was his dream, and I give him major credit:  he made it happen.  He’s mostly film crew and lighting.  Anyway, I asked him about this reality stuff, and he explained that it was mainly about money.  It’s cheaper to film pre-law students from Mississippi than to hire Jennifer Aniston.  Okay, understandable.

What too much of the audience does not realize:  these days, a good percentage of Survivor players are recruited.  Now, why would they do that? It’s like this.  Average typical Joes and Janes are a pain in the butt from Hollywood’s standpoint.  They don’t always realize that their job is to create good TV, and they may not be tractable.  But if you recruit a couple of semi-notorious past contestants, and a bunch of people with at least some hope of making a mark in show business (rather than winning a mill and then finishing law school in Mississippi), they’ll play ball with the producers.

The benefit here is less work necessary in editing and production. Sure, producers can create a Frankenbyte to make people say anything, but it’s nice when the cast is tractable.  “Could you do that one again?”  “Sure, no problem.”  As opposed to:  “Are you kidding? You filmed me taking a leak.  Go to hell.”

At any rate, that’s where we are at.  Oh, we have the obligatory old white redneck, plus all the other stereotypes.  Lots of young women in bikinis, can’t even tell them apart, don’t even care.  It’s wandered far afield from the original concept, and as ever, the producers don’t realize that the original concept was what made it interesting, and that all that is needed to keep it fresh is new crops of players with new behaviors.  Nope, just have to mess with it.  Hollywood, once again running true to form:  the longer Hollywood holds anything, the more it cheapens it.

I see this as the eternal impulse to “change it up.” We deal with it often in editing as well, including the writer who self-edits eternally and never pulls the publication trigger. At some point, the thing’s got to be done.

Not saying that Hollywood should never evolve its reality shows, of course. Tastes can change in twenty years. What I’m saying is that a predictable editing of the concept begins far too early, and mainly because producers cannot resist tinkering–“making it their own.” That, I think, is more about them than about the viewer.