Come Back, Gilligan

The unreal world of Survivor

So the only real question remaining is, Who are you pulling for? Personally, I've got my money on practical, levelheaded teacher Gretchen or "Ivy League graduate" (I'm sure somewhere his mother is proud) Greg, a goofy-haired cutup with a crush on pixyish Colleen. Both seem reasonable, likable, and more or less sane--everyday heroes whose triumph wouldn't reinforce the discouraging high school tutorial that jocks and their followers always come out on top.

Life's a beach? B.B. and Gretchen toil like grownups
Life's a beach? B.B. and Gretchen toil like grownups

And though it's possible to appreciate the show ironically, there's really no need to detach oneself from the immediate excitement of the competition. The show may be bereft of deeper value, but it's genuinely involving and mostly harmless. (At the same time, the programs that are sure to follow will get worse: The rat BBQ is just the beginning.) The real secret of Survivor is perhaps its hidden niceness--the lurking hope it awakens, though we may not be able to admit it, that maybe this time, mean people suck, and nice guys won't have to finish last.

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