Survivor is practically an American pastime. In its heyday, it was consistently one of the highest-ranked shows on television, and I’m not trying to imply that its heyday is over. It’s the first reality competition. People are obsessed with this show. And yet for some reason, I just watched my first season.
Drew has always loved Survivor, but I hadn’t gotten around to watching it until about a week ago. We sat down to watch Season 25: Philippines (last season) and I was HOOKED. I would have been happy staying up all night watching episode after episode, if not for knowing that that little alarm clock, in the form of our 7-month-old son, would be going off the next morning at 6:45. After getting through Season 25 in about a week, we started watching Season 26, which is currently airing on CBS, and I look forward to watching it along with America every week.
The best thing about Survivor is the strategy. Sometimes you’ll get an episode where everyone can just be blatantly honest with each other about who they’re voting off, and it doesn’t matter because of the numbers. But usually, it’s all trickery and deception and bargaining, and I find that I can never guess who’s going home because it’s just all up in the air until the moment everyone votes. Amazing.
But there are some people who try to play “an honest game.” And I understand that being able to stand up at the end and say, “I didn’t lie to anyone,” is probably a good card to play. But in general, I cheer for the people who lie at every turn and manage to blindside other people – the ones who are really “playing the game,” as they always say.
Which makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with my moral compass. Shouldn’t I be rooting for the person who doesn’t lie, who doesn’t backstab, and who tries to keep up morale? But as you might have noticed, that just doesn’t make for good TV.
But in my Real Life, I think I’m a pretty moral person. My knee jerk reaction when someone gives me too much change is to be honest. One time a bank gave me an extra $5 bill and I gave it back. When I was in high school, and trying out rebellion, I once stole a small Mead notebook from a very well-known chain store. I think I just wanted to know that I could do it. The next day, I snuck it back in to the store, and then purchased it. I mean, I’d already written in it, or else I might have just stuck it back on the shelf.
No matter how much I cheer for the person who straight-faced lies into another person’s face on TV, I don’t want to see that in Real Life. It’s only fun when it’s all a game…with a million dollars on the line. I want to be able to trust the people around me, and I want them to feel like they can trust me back. I want to teach my son that he can trust his parents, and I hope that we’ll be able to trust him. I think the reason I enjoyed my childhood and adolescence so much is that my parents were able to trust me and give me some freedom.
I do, however, understand the need to occasionally push boundaries, perhaps in the form of stealing something small, and then un-stealing it to pay for it. That, I think, is a good balance of rebellious and nerdy.