Reviewing the Reviews: 'Survivor'
While we here at EW know that the only review of last night’s Survivor: The Amazing Races! that matters is Dalton Ross’ weekly TV Watch, other TV critics are still out there laboring under the misapprehension that they should write one too. Ha, we say. But here, we’ll round ‘em up for you anyway:
Barry Garron at Reuters comes in for the kneecap almost instantly with “‘Survivor’ maven’s big racial experiment a bust.” “The show always has been so slickly produced and edited that, in the end, what comes out of the players’ mouths is mostly what the producers want viewers to hear,” he writes. “If you think, for even a nanosecond, that someone might say, ‘We’re going to show those (insert your favorite racial epithet)!’ and it would get on the air, I’ve got some fabulous UPN stock to offer you.”
My good pal Robert Bianco over at USA Today keeps the hysteria out of his title — “Divisive ‘Survivor’ exploits ethnic cliches” — because he’s saving it all for this part: “Survivor has embraced the very essence of discrimination: treating people not as individuals but as members of a ethnically defined group. And the fact that Survivor finally, for the first time, has enough members of those groups to make discrimination viable is hardly a defense. Of course, the twist won’t be with us for long. Sooner rather than later, the tribes will merge and the ethnic opening will be forgotten. Which will allow many of us to forget about Survivor entirely… And that will be a happy day.” (I’m sure Mark Burnett will miss you, Robert.)
New York Times TV-watching-person Alessandra Stanley doesn’t really futz with the messy reviewing part, just sort of hands in some vague musings in “Will a Gimmick Be Enough For ‘Survivor’ to Save Itself?” For example: “It might be more interesting if they chose to mix it up geographically and culturally: Kamchatka or suburban Connecticut.” Oh, totes, Alessandra.
At MSNBC, Andy Dehnart rolls in with a fairly reasonable take on everything titled “Racial divide doesn’t change ‘Survivor’.” Reasonable, with the exception of his subheading: “People are still playing the same game… and they still want to win.” Really? I could have sworn I read somewhere that Hispanics actually do not want to win. Wow, was I wrong! Thanks, Andy Dehnart!
Finally, let’s turn to the handsomest TV critic in the biz (besides Dalton, of course), Peter Ames Carlin of the Oregonian. “Could Survivor just possibly lift racial awareness?” he asks in the headline, and his first line is “Maybe it’s time to get beyond the moral indignation.” (Well. What would be the fun in that?) He concludes: “Racism is not a thing of the past. Though we do a fine job of telling ourselves otherwise, one good look at the unhealed devastation in New Orleans proves otherwise. Yet this is rarely, if ever, talked about on network TV. Until now. If it turns out that the Survivors divide along racial lines, if traditional hatreds and outrages boil out into the open, it will be a shame. And all too familiar. Welcome back to America.”
What did you think of last night’s season premiere? (If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s streaming now at CBS’ Innertube site.)
addCredit(“Survivor: Cook Island: Monty Brinton”)