Reality TV

I’ve watched a lot of reality television, starting when “Survivor” first came out in 2000.

I have also seen many seasons of Big Brother Canada, US and Australia. The two shows are very similar, it is character-based drama where the contestants are forced to be in each other’s space and determine each other’s fate in the game. It’s a social experiment, televised.

As I was catching up on the current seasons of these shows, my first writing related thought was that it would be a good character study as there isn’t much plot. The amount you like the characters usually fluctuates too, sometimes you are rooting for someone, then they do something and you no longer want them to win. The girl you thought was a floater suddenly makes a big move and throws her alliance member under the bus could be good or bad depending on your perceptions of the alliance member.

I began thinking of different ways you could write fiction based from Survivor.

The story starts off with a list of cast members and everything is going just like the TV show when something catastrophic happens. Maybe Jeff is bitten by a shark, although I’d call him something else but maintain his character’s demeanour. In Survivor Australia the host is called Jon, he is the Aussie version of Jeff. Perhaps another one syllable J name? It should also be a fictional show called something else. I just checked and “Against the Odds” is already taken, it’s a military documentary. “Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast” is the show’s motto so maybe “Outlaster” would be a call back to the show or maybe it would be too similar? “Endurer”?

I’ve always wanted to see a show about behind the scenes on Survivor, from the camera people’s point of view. Who are they? Where do they stay? Do they choose locations near a hotel with a restaurant but just make it look like a deserted island? How many camera and sound people are there? You never see any evidence of the filming crew and I think that would be interesting. There was a show called “UnREAL” that showed a fictional take on the deception used in shows like the “Bachelor” it could be something like that.

Maybe the setting is something more extreme than an isolated house with other house guests, or eating rice and doing physical challenges at the beach. Real survival situations gone wrong!

Survivor Arctic- they build an igloo with the help of an Inuit guide and learn ice fishing and dog-sledding. Someone dies, what if it’s a member of the filming crew?

Survivor Desert- they are roasting and eating cactus, when someone is bitten by a rattlesnake. Instead of the contestants getting voted out on tribal council, they each die of different causes.

Survivor Shipwreck- starts out as surviving on the sea, until the boat is attacked by sharks? Killer whales? and begins to sink, several cast members and a camera man make it to the lifeboat. The show plays out in the dinghy searching for land, they could even take votes to see who gets tossed overboard to conserve their dwindling supplies. The sole survivor is the camera-man, they decide not to televise the footage, but they eventually find someone trapped in the sunken ship in a pocket of air for several days, he is given a consolation prize when producers agree he is truly an “Endurer.”

I like where this is going.


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