More than you want to know about CBS's twisted island challenge.

Topics: Survivor, CBS,

CBS’s twisted reality show “Survivor” shipwrecks 16 carefully selected stereotypes onto the remote Pulau Tiga island near Borneo in the South China Sea. One half “Real World,” one half “American Gladiators,” each weekly episode features a bizarre physical challenge that first pit two teams — the Tagi and Pagong — against one another, and then every player against everyone else. Every three days, the castaways must oust one person at the weirdly ritualized “Tribal Council.” At the end of the summer season, only one member will remain — and walk out with a $1 million prize.

“Survivor” works not because it’s real, but because it’s so beautifully manipulated. The natural environment provides water snakes and abundant rats — which the contestants have roasted and tell us taste something like chicken, naturally. Both are icky enough to titillate and gross out armchair survivalists. And the characters, surely chosen for conflict potential, are even more transfixing. Two older islanders bit it in the first two rounds. A lawyer from San Francisco got dumped on the third episode, a whining biochemist in the fourth. Tagi’s secret, ad hoc voting alliance took down two victims on the fifth and seventh: the Bible-thumping virgin and an impressive schoolteacher and team-leader. In between, the women of Pagong ditched a mildly sexist beefcake. In the eighth, a silly ivy league student — another threat to the alliance — was tossed by the alliance. The alliance broke in the ninth, but the three who were left managed to take out a single mom. Remaining are a crotchety Navy SEAL, a tough truck driver, a devious gay motivational speaker, a doctor with a pierced nipple, a cute young student and a guy who won’t work and can’t swim.

Watch them argue! Start your own “Survivor” pool! Participate in a cultural phenomenon! Stay tuned to Salon.com for even more coverage!!!

You Might Also Like

“Survivor”: The story so far
An episode-by-episode guide to the Darwinian high jinks of CBS’s island castaways.
By the Salon Arts staff

Survival of the dullest
The future is here, and instead of 15 minutes of fame everyone’s going to get several episodes’ worth. Can anonymity survive “Survivor”?
By Carrina Chocano

“Big Brother,” meet “Survivor”; “Survivor,” meet “The Real World”
What reality TV shows should learn from one another.
By Andy Dehnart

Table Talk
Getting primal on “Survivor”
Who would you vote off the island?

“Survivor”: The merchandise
The castaways went to Pulau Tiga and we didn’t even get a crummy action figure. When are the pop-crap purveyors going to deliver the goods?
By Joyce Millman

My Ramona
A song for the rejected castaway, sung to the tune of “My Sharona.”
By Alanis Smithee

Tiga after television
When the last of the “Survivor” contestants leaves, what happens to the little island the competitive castaways called home?
By Don George

Island fever
I was willing to spring my gay porn past on my unsuspecting family if it would get me on the TV show “Survivor.” But would it?
By Dylan James

The Wacky World of Television
On American game shows, you answer questions and win money. In the rest of the world, you get naked and bob for false teeth in a bucket of pig eyeballs.
By Gavin McNett

They’ve booted Mrs. Howell!
The debut episode of “Survivor” sees the castaways turning on the aged first — and beats “Millionaire” in the ratings.
By Joyce Millman

How to win at “Survivor”
The Darwinian undercurrents of “Survivor” are plain, but the real winner will be the castaway who understands the show’s endgame.
By Bill Wyman

Song for a “Survivor”
An ode to B.B. Anderson, the second castaway thrown out of CBS’s island paradise.
By Virginia Vitzthum

Staying on the island
I lived my own version of “Survivor” one winter in St. Thomas with a friend and three strangers.
By Virginia Vitzthum

Survival of the vilest
Is CBS’s “Survivor” simply a 13-week TV series or a conceptual island of shame where the moral disgrace lasts forever?
By Cintra Wilson

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Michael Ohl/Museum fur Naturkunde

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Soul-Sucking Dementor Wasp

    Latin name: Ampulex dementor

    Truong Ngyuen

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    10,000th reptile species

    Latin name: Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi

    Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Colour-changing thorny frogs

    Latin name: Gracixalus lumarius

    Judith L. Eger

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Long-fanged bat

    Latin name: Hypsugo dolichodon

    Neang Thy Moe/FFI

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Stealthy wolf snake

    Latin name: Lycodon zoosvictoriae

    Michael Janes

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Feathered coral

    Latin name: Ovabunda andamanensis

    Jerome Constant

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    World's second-longest insect

    Phryganistria heusii yentuensis

    Nantasak Pinkaew

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 8

    Latin name: Sirindhornia spp

    Tim Johnson

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 9

    Tylototriton shanorum

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>