Friday, September 08, 2006

Survivor: the amazing race?

Over the past few weeks, the CBS show Survivor has received all kinds of interesting publicity for its 13th season, which starts next Thursday. First came the announcement that the 20 contestants would be divided into four teams by race and ethnicity: white, black, Asian, and Latino. Then came the denouncement: NYC politicians spoke out against using segregation for ratings, and several advertisers pulled their sponsorship, either coincidentally or not. Here's a nice recap.

Frankly, I don't see the problem. As I understand it, teams get integrated as contestants are voted off; now the integration will be literal. Fans of Survivor know that early alliances ultimately are abandoned. Most importantly -- and I can't emphasize this enough -- 15 cast members will NOT be white.

That's... astounding. Especially for a top 20 show. To compare, look at another CBS series, The Class. It features 8 main characters who went to the same elementary school in 1986 and reunite 20 years later. And they're all white! Were there no minorities in school then? Truly pathetic, but far more indicative of the state of television, both behind and in front of the camera. (One notable and high-rated exception, Grey's Anatomy, has 5 minorities in its main cast of 11, which is a more sensible representation.)

If we followed the Survivor racial ratio, only 2 cast members in The Class would be white. That would be interesting; someday, it could happen. In the meantime, it's a little sad that only reality TV is willing to make ethnic diversity a part of TV reality.

55 Fiction Friday likes to mix it up a little.


Why couldn’t Ulrich accept this change? It’s not as though he was surprised this day would arrive. It was inevitable for those of such stature. Over the years, he had grown tall and sturdy in a sunny and fertile environment.

Graduation had come, and it was time for Ulrich to be uprooted. It’s only natural.

2 comments:

slskenyon said...

Wow--I didn't know Survivor was going to run this season like that. I like your point about the number of non-white people on the show. All the rest of them have followed a similar formula with very little difference in race. My initial reaction was negative to this concept, but I do like your take on it--I'd like to see how it is received when it comes out.

Julie said...

It features 8 main characters who went to the same elementary school in 1986 and reunite 20 years later. And they're all white! Were there no minorities in school then?

Not to defend the all-white, but to just debate the statement you made...
I'm curious to know what town The Class is set in. Have you ever been to the Great Plains? There are plenty of school classes even now that are all white.
Do eight people make up an entire class? If so, I'm guessing it's not set in some place like New York City.
Grey's Anatomy is set in Seattle and it represents the diversity we have here.