“Survivor” gets ‘race’y with new show

By Nicole Osuch
September 15, 2006

“Survivor: Cook Islands” will be premiering Thursday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. on CBS. This will be the reality show’s 13th season.

Twenty hopeful million dollar prize winners will meet for the first time. They have come to battle it out survivor style in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.

In the past, reality shows have cast an array of individuals from different ethnicity, sexuality and background. However, no reality series has dared to make race an issue to this magnitude. Producers of the show have decided to separate the tribes by race.

The show will begin with the cast in four groups: African American, Asian American, Caucasian and Hispanic. Viewers will get to watch and see what happens when later in the season the four groups are then fused together.

“Survivor” cast member Jonathan Penner, 44, said, “I thought it was very gutsy. I think it is going to be very interesting, but I think it’s potentially dangerous.”

Rebecca Borman, 24, a contestant on this season’s “Survivor” and makeup artist on ABC’s “The View” does make-up for former “Survivor” contestant Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Borman said, “It is hard enough out there to just survive and to have to bring the race issue into it just makes it that much harder.”

Contestants on this season’s “Survivor” must battle to win the grand prize. Not only are “Survivor” contestants fighting for the prize money, but this season they are fighting to bring pride and honor to their race.

“All 20 of them realize they need to integrate and work across those ethnic group lines to win the game. They need to get over those to win the game,” said Mark Burnett, executive producer of the show.

Race is an issue that is sure to make contestants and viewers all the more passionate about the show’s competition.

This upcoming season will bear out to be full of manipulation, backstabbing and deception among the “Survivor” cast, especially with the way producers have decided to divide the tribes.

Perhaps the separation of tribes in this way will boost the show’s dropping ratings. Nevertheless, the show still remains a must-see. It comes as no surprise that a reality show that has lasted this long is not experiencing growing pains.

It will all come down to whether viewers find this approach to be intriguing. The racy division of the tribes will definitely get people talking about the show again.

Marissa DeAngelis, a sophomore exercise science and heath promotion major, said, “I do not think it is a good idea. We are trying to close the gap between races and the show is dividing the races and putting it on television in front of viewers as an acceptable thing to do.”

With “Survivor” executives deciding to separate the tribes in such a politically charged manner, they leave viewers to only imagine what challenges they have come up with for this season.

Stranded on the Cook Islands in the heart of the South Pacific, 20 strangers must live together and compete for the million-dollar prize on September 14 at 8 p.m., only on CBS.

Loquitur welcomes your comments on this story. Please send your comments to: Loquitur@googlegroups.com. The editors will review your points each week and make corrections if warranted.

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Nicole Osuch

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