Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Surviving the social game: Survivor vs Big Brother

Big Brother and Survivor are two of the most popular reality TV shows of all time. But besides some obvious differences -- one takes place inside a locked home for $500,000 and the other in the great outdoors for $1,000,000 -- the two shows are very similar.

A group of complete strangers come together to compete for money and vote each other off the show. In order to win that money, you must be the last man (or woman) standing at the end of the show. To get to the end of the show, you must not only win competitions, but also be socially accepted.

The way to win the social game is the one key difference between Survivor and Big Brother.

On Big Brother, you have to be strategic. You can't just lay low and cruise to the "small table" (the "small table" is brought into the kitchen to replace the "big table" once the house is down to 8 housemates). On Big Brother, you have to either be a leader, or align yourself with a leader. Then stick with your alliance until you have to make a move. Sometimes, the winner of Big Brother is the loudest, most-outgoing, socially-unaccepted person in the house, but they make moves. On Big Brother, making strategic moves gives you the power to survive.

On Survivor, you can be too strategic. If you make too many moves, you won't survive. On Survivor, you just have to keep calm and lay low. Sometimes -- if you're not too opinionated or too outgoing -- you can lose every single challenge, and just by laying low you'll make it to "the merge" ("the merge" is when the previously separate and competing teams come together and the show becomes every man and woman for himself or herself).

It always amazes me that contestants on Survivor can't keep calm long enough to make it to "the merge." It's the only thing you need to do to survive longer than half of your competitors. Sometimes people on Survivor make it to the merge before I even learn their name!

Maybe I am just speaking for myself -- a level-headed long-fuse? And granted the producers do cast the most overly-dramatic short-fused personalities they can find. But it's for one million dollars! C'mon!

Then again, I do get pretty cranky when I haven't eaten.

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