Monday, May 9, 2005

I Could Have Been Somebody

I don't know if "reality TV" has been so dubbed because it's supposed to reflect anything that's actually going on outside that big black box in the corner of my living room. More likely it's been called that because nothing that happens on those shows has been written and we all know that nothing written is ever real.

I've been a huge fan of the original network reality show Survivor, ever since its inception. Yes I know the show is utterly predictable and dumb but I've always been quite entertained by all the conniving and scheming done by groups of good looking albeit more often than not, rather vacuous people.

This season started off the same as always despite the twists the producers have tried to introduce. Immediate lapses in judgment led to poor strategy by a couple of people who apparently have never seen the show before. The one thing all Survivor players should know by now is that the one thing you do not want to do at the beginning of the adventure is to call attention to yourself. You don't want to be too bossy or assume that it is a good idea to try and be a leader, a loner, or an eccentric. If you stick out you're gonna have this huge target tattooed on to your back and you're gonna get voted off pronto.

Sure enough the first person booted off of Survivor Palau was a woman who thought she'd entertain everyone else by belting out songs she had written about the show. While the others rowed their boat toward shore this woman annoyed them all by not only not helping row but by singing some rather dreadful songs.

The plot twist this season was that the first two people ashore got to be captains and they chose the next person they wanted on their team. That person then chose the next and so on. The singer/songwriter of course did not get chosen. As the teams were formed it appeared to be a mismatch. One team contained all the young, athletic, good looking people while the others had the misfits and old people. Surprise of surprises the young athletic team did not win an entire immunity challenge and all of their tribe members have now been voted off.

Up until this season my all time favorite Survivor was Elisabeth Filarski who parlayed her charm and sweet personality into a full time gig co-hosting the ABC daytime talk show, The View. However one of this season's Survivors, Stephenie, has moved to the top of my heart by showing she was perhaps the best female participant ever. She kicked butt in the immunity challenges even though her team never won one. She out hustled, out performed and outwitted the rest of her team. When she ultimately joined the opposing team, her odds in surviving were minimal because not only was she the odd person out, but she was seen as a threat for her prowess in challenges.

There reached a point where Janu, a whiny Las Vegas dancer wanted out and she let her teammates know by completely isolating herself and shutting down. Still some wanted to vote out Stephenie first, because they didn't see Janu being a threat in any way shape or form. At the next tribal council Stephenie soon began to realize she was in trouble. As it dawned on her she began to cry. She said it wasn't fair (and it wasn't) that because she had done so well she was apparently done while there was another who was asking to get voted off and she apparently wasn't going to get her wish.

I didn't realize that Stephenie's competitive drive had gotten to me until the tears began to stream down my own cheeks. It wasn't the first time in my life a Stephenie made me bawl. But that's another story of course. Since that particular Stephanie, my life has somehow morphed into being about all kitties all the time. Sometimes I think living with the three that they have formed a Survivor like alliance and if we had a vote on who to kick out of this house I'd be the first to go.

But then again if this house was actually made into a reality show (or at least something real) it would be more like NBC's The Contender. That show kicks Survivor's butt because the actual demise of its contestants is to lose a hard fought boxing match not some kind of goofy contrived challenge and the show if nothing else has shown over its run that boxing is a rather brutal sport.

The Contender does a splendid job of effectively building the tension up to the actual fight. The mixture of realism and reality TV is highlighted by the presence of Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard both equally comical in their attempts at analyzing what is going on. I'm not sure if Sly realizes he was never an actual championship boxer, and I'm not sure if Sugar Ray realizes he was never the entertainer Ali was, but if they came over to my house they could maybe help me sort out the pecking order between Diego-san, Thompson, and young Theo. When the boyz wrestle I'm not sure if they're playing or if they're playing for real. All I know is this isn't the Real World and yet I'm still game in playing along.

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