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'Survivor' is still surviving

By Shelley Reno
On April 3, 2018

Imagine the summer of 2000 and sitting down in front of your television screen to watch a show about a group of strangers living on an island and voting each other off so that the sole survivor would win one million dollars.

2000 seems so far away now, here in 2018, but "Survivor," the CBS original reality show slash social experiment is still going strong, even if people have generally forgotten about it. "Survivor: Ghost Island," the 36th season, premiered in February to as much as acclaim as every season of Survivor has since its beginning by being the most-watched thing on cable tv that night.

Most people when you mention "Survivor" are incredulous. "That show still exists?" and "They're on season what?" are common responses when you start to talk about it. People have pushed Survivor to the backs of their minds, only remembering it for its ridiculousness. Who would want to live on an island for 39 days, struggle to make fire and eat nothing but rice and coconut while dealing with people who walk around naked (Richard Hatch, "Survivor: Borneo" and "Survivor: All-Stars") or lie about their grandmother dying (Jon 'Jonny Fairplay' Dalton, "Survivor: Pearl Islands" and "Survivor: Micronesia.")

Still, "Survivor" and all of its many iterations of 36 seasons, has an impact on the way we view societies and is still, thankfully, going strong.

While being a reality show, "Survivor" does answer questions that people have thought about, but would have no way to put to the test. By putting castaways on the island from all different walks of life, it shows what people value most, whether it be gender, age, race, strength or smarts. Who is better, someone who is from a white collar setting or a "no-collar" setting ("Survivor: Worlds Apart?") What about race ("Survivor: Cook Islands") or gender ("Survivor: One World") or age and gender ("Survivor: Exile Island.") 

"Survivor," which has gorgeous scenery and wildlife scenes, has also taken place throughout many beautiful and treacherous locations on Earth, from the harsh grasslands of the Tocantins in Brazil to the beautiful Mamanuca Islands of Fiji and the Australian Outback.

Most people think that this show died a long time ago. Why should anyone still watch it? Why do so many people, week by week, glue their faces to their screens to watch a bunch of starving people fight over a wooden statue and get their torches flame snuffed out by Jeff Probst? Who wants to sit and watch people stack blocks with their feet or navigate a tiny ball through an obstacle course while not letting it touch the ground?

Apparently, plenty of people. According to thewrap.com, the two-hour season premiere of "Survivor: Ghost Island" beat out "X-Files" and "Modern Family" by having 8.1 million viewers, almost 4 million more than second place "X-Files" who came in at only 4.6 million.

So, despite casual viewers who dismiss the show and think it can't possibly still be going on, "Survivor" and CBS are definitely doing something right and I know that I will be planted every Wednesday at 7 p.m. to see what happens "next time on "Survivor."

"The tribe has spoken," and this show is here to stay.

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