The Evolution of the Game

PrintA season of television isn’t over until the airing of the Survivor season finale.  Sure, while most shows have mid-season finales, reality shows like Survivor get two season finales a year.  That means that things move pretty fast, particularly when the shows run without interruption but start later than most.

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X came to a close tonight.  The finale was frustrating, partly because they always focus on things in the “reunion” show that I didn’t find all that vital.  And as has been the case for the last couple of years, the show has grown self-aware in a way that is kind of frustrating.  This became evident in the recent all-stars season where the lines were drawn between earlier and later seasons, a battle between alliances and voting blocks.  This season started out with the language and feel of voting blocks but then ended up in a place I don’t quite know how to describe (perhaps without sounding callous).     On some deep level, the finale and reunion show was a stark reminder of the strengths and weaknesses of the cultures it tried to pit against one another.

And so now the spring season of the show is all about “game changers.”  It will make for an interesting season, I imagine.  But interesting isn’t always enjoyable.  You have to like some of the people in the cast, and not all of them can make big moves.  So we’ll see.

This was the season, I think, where the idea of the individual narrative really took off, particularly in the sense of personal transformation.  Don’t get me wrong: it’s always been there.  I can’t imagine the kind of life-change such an experience can bring.  But a season of quality (almost crazy) game-play was overshadowed by things that didn’t seem to be such a big deal when the show started . . . and even as it matured.  Heck.  In the final tribal council, one member of the jury even asked the question of the two millennials: how did your game play actually move the game of Survivor forward.  Such a weird way to bring progressivism into a show rooted in something almost primal.

I guess these thoughts place me firmly in Generation X.

(image from Entertainment Weekly)

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