I was watching Tv with my wife this evening. she watches Survivor and I often watch with her. I don't normally write about television but this was different.

I'll assume most people are familiar with the show. Each episode ends with something called Tribal Council where a member of a tribe is voted off the main contest in the show. There was a guy by the name of Jeff Varner at the bottom of the heap who knew he'd probably be voted off and he was doing what he could to stay on. A tactic he used was to say that another cast member, Zeke Smith, wasn't being honest with everyone. He gave a couple of examples, including one that was unexpected:

He outed Zeke as trans.

Zeke is gay, which came up the previous season, but he was not out as trans. Varner figured Zeke wasn't out to the cast but apparently assumed he was out in his real life. However, aside from a few friends and family who knew him during his transition, Zeke was not generally out. He didn't want to be because he wanted to be judged on the show including by viewers as a contestant, not as "the trans guy."

Everyone there except Zeke, who sat there looking shell-shocked, turned on Varner immediately, particularly Jeff Probat, the host. As might be expected, Varner was voted off, by acclimation rather than by the usual secret ballot method.

What I haven't been able to find out yet is how the producers concluded they wanted to air this. Everything I've seen so far treats this as live television, which it's not, except for the final results show.

I've watched a lot of Survivor over the years. I've never seen anything like this. (I would assume the other tribe is unaware of this, and so I guess I'll watch to see if it comes up again and, if so, how.)

I'm guessing there will be a lot of press over this. There already is. If you happen to read about the decision to air and how it was done, please comment. That had to be an interesting process.

Views: 167

Comment by nanatehay on April 12, 2017 at 11:32pm

I haven't owned a TV in several years, so, though I do know roughly what Survivor is about, I have never watched it. Before giving up TV though, I was a big fan of that Canadian guy who had a similarly named show where he was always being dropped off by a helicopter in a rainforest or the Canadian taiga then had to make it through a long weekend in pretty harrowing conditions with only a bootlace, 3 matches, a rotten sardine and a bottle of his own urine. It's probably just as well I missed the other show - I'm more suited by temperament to go off into the woods on my own like that laconic Canuck fella than I am to running around with a mob of pretty narcissists trying to survive as a team by screwing each other over. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on April 12, 2017 at 11:43pm

I watch a lot of T.V. with my wife, mostly "cop shows" like Blue Bloods, NCIS in its various iterations, and so on.  We've never seen an episode of Survivor because my wife is still angry about the networks breaking the writer's strike by creating something "stupid" (her word) that would not require a writer, and was more fake than professional wrestling.  So, I can't really comment on Survivor.

I did watch a couple of episodes of something where they drop a nude, unrelated, couple off in the middle of nowhere with the option of bringing one survival item.  It was so totally preposterous that I had to watch.

Do you think the trans guy really didn't know they were going to do that?  Maybe he isn't even gay.

Comment by nanatehay on April 12, 2017 at 11:44pm

OK,  I just re-read your post a little more thoroughly. I gotta wonder right along with you about what the producers were thinking there, though the antics of the cast don't surprise me a bit considering the " mob of pretty narcissists" aspect of the show which I mentioned in my first comment. What I take away from it is, mainly, that human beings suck. 

Comment by Ron Powell on April 13, 2017 at 12:55am

Comment by Ron Powell on April 13, 2017 at 1:04am
On Survivor, how much do the other players besides the winner get paid?

Andy Dehnart

First, everyone receives $10,000 for their participation in the live finale and reunion, even if Jeff Probst ignores them on stage.

Non-winning, non-jury contestants also get a most-expenses-paid trip, usually to another country, where they hang out and vacation until the game’s 39 days are over. (That allows the production to clear out the contestant holding area, Ponderosa, for the jury. And that means everyone returns to the US at the same time.)

The runner-up gets $100,000; the third-place contestant receives $85,000. In the event of a final three in which the runners-up both receive the same number of votes (even zero), they split $185,000, receiving $92,500 each.

All other contestants also receive a cash prize, one that decreases based on their placement in the game.

The scale below is what was widely circulated in early seasons, when there were seasons with 16 players; most seasons now have 18 or 20 players, so obviously there are other amounts—and the lower amounts, especially, may have changed since those early years. No early-boot contestant has yet, to my knowledge, publicly revealed their cash prize, so this is the best we have right now.

  1. Winner: $1,000,000
  2. Runner-up, $100,000
  3. $85,000
  4. $70,000
  5. $55,000
  6. $45,000
  7. $35,000
  8. $27,500
  9. $20,000
  10. $15,000
  11. $10,000
  12. $7,500
  13. $5,500
  14. $4,500
  15. $3,500
  16. $2,500
Comment by Ron Powell on April 13, 2017 at 1:25am

Most TV 'reality' shows are at least partially scripted and very heavily edited.....

The usual result is somewhat  predictable, particularly when the viewing audience gets to participate in the voting. 

The entire matter becomes a popularity contest of sorts and the actual skill set required to succeed in the 'contest' becomes less and less a factor in 'winning'.

The payout is structured very much like the payout  is structured for a poker tournament, with a catch.

Participants receive a flat  payment per episode in which they appear in addition to any prize they may 'win' per the scale I've given.

My guess here is that everybody, including  the TV audience knew that Varner was on his way out.

Producers needed to spice up his exit in order to hold the viewing audience so they scripted a 'surprise' outing of the transgender guy, Zeke.

Nobody knew that this would occur except Varner, who most likely got a 'nondiscloseable' bonus for allowing himself to look like a complete asshole, the producers, and the host who has the job of deftly drawing the 'real' unscripted reactions from the remainder of the 'cast' before time is up and everyone returns to his or her quarters on the island.

Comment by Ron Powell on April 13, 2017 at 1:57am

Final note: Now that Zeke is 'out' it will be interesting to see how long he lasts with everyone being aware of his being transgender.

Getting rid of Varner by outing Zeke is an audience teaser for sure.

There are people who will watch now just to keep an eye on Zeke and how he is treated and how he fares....

The kind of stuff that pushed Trump to the top of  the TV 'reality' heap with  his show, "The Apprentice".


Two things we should all know by now that weigh heavily into the understanding of how 'reality TV' works:


1. Real life is deadly dull




2. TV is about ratings which translates to money, lots and lots of money.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on April 13, 2017 at 6:11am

I never watch "reality" TV.  So I can't really comment.

Comment by Foolish Monkey on April 13, 2017 at 6:21pm

My husband's a huge fan, I watch - never the beginning - I hate the beginning.  once the players are established it becomes interesting, although everyone is filthy.   mind you, I'm not phobic about dirt but it gets to me, all this filth actually grows under their skin plus they're all starving, and I find the entire business very unsavory.  add to this I hate Probst, he's a cheerleader and entirely fake.  

A little history - this show grew out of another the ECO CHALLENGE which was astronomically fabulous.  Teams of I athletes from all over the world would transverse a course and compete very hard to complete it.  It was dramatic and the athletes were amazing, and we were addicted.  Then Burnett came up with Survivor - which seemed a lot less death defying (because there were some close calls on Eco) and we were hooked.  I kind of shriveled on the vine after a few years but my husband remains a diehard fan.   

Anyway, we watched this episode and it was unconscionable that they put it on television.  First of all, when I say these people are entirely stressed, starved and in this very strategic situation to win a million dollars.  This particular season they've all played before.  

Anyway Varner said he was going to go for it, to try not to be sent home because his "alliance" team member went last week.  So he was on his way home unless he did something.  And he was doing a great job - he pointed out that Zeke was probably in a secret alliance and that he was duplicitious and up until that point he was doing great.  It's easy to gobsmack a team and Varner was doing a great job.  But he wouldn't stop...I said to my husband "he needs to shut up now" but he kept going, and he actually outted Zeke as a transgender.  FUCK! 

I hate this show even more now.  No one is going to treat Zeke any differently.  He'll be around for another couple of weeks but then he'll be gone because he WAS duplicitous.  

However this may very well work for him - everyone feeling bad that his secret has been exposed on national television.  In fact, it's very possible he made the final three and that's why they decided to show it - because it had no ill effect and in fact, may have helped him advance.  

Strange goings on tend to screw up the dynamic and the inevitable.  Zeke had been a manipulator and eventually when everyone is hungry enough and crazy with money lust and tired of being jerked around, they dump guys like Zeke, which is why he didn't do particularly well when he played the last time.  

But I felt sorry for him and sorrier for Varner who got caught up in his own version of stratego and was exposed to the entire world as ....someone who would out someone else for money, someone who isn't very decent.  At the end of the show he was crying and I believe he was so caught up in the moment and the intimacy of the tribal council, he didn't realize what he was doing, although I've no doubt there were cameras EVERYWHERE.  

I suppose in the end, they're all ordinary people in an extraordinary situation and very few of them are great strategists.  It makes you think about how far a person will go for a million bucks. 

Comment by koshersalaami on April 13, 2017 at 10:43pm

Yeah. I wonder if they got Zeke's consent to air it. That's the one thing I'm not reading anywhere. 

I don't like Probst either. Way, way too smug. 


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