Friday, February 03, 2006

Exile Island

I’ve had the unfortunate luck to become addicted to the reality TV series Survivor.  I don’t’ really like the other reality offerings but watching the political aspect of Survivor has captured my attention.

In recent years the show had become somewhat predictable as the contestants have learned how to game the system.  If you can avoid confrontational relationships with your clan mates, contribute to the chores of the tribe and avoid looking like you have taken charge you can typically guarantee yourself a spot in the final eight.  Once you are have made it to the “merge” your only task is to put finger to the wind and align yourself with the majority while avoiding pissing everyone off.

It’s not a perfect system and certainly not a guarantee of success but it’s a formula that has typically been deployed by the winners.  This year they split everyone into four groups of four avoiding natural alliances by splitting the teams into similar demographics – young and old, men and women.

This structure has completely changed the dynamics of the game – there can be no “flying under the radar” you only have four others to align yourself with and being a loner – something that typically has worked in the early stages of the game – is a certain death warrant.  So the strategy of recognizing power structures and manipulating them for your benefit – a late game strategy of years past – is now the early game strategy.

Kudos to the producers of Survivor in recognizing that the show has become stale and changing the game, I am excited about this season more than any time in the last several years.  

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