SINGAPORE — Let me confess a weakness: I’m a sucker for reality TV.
But watching the debut episode of “Survivor 4: Marquesas” was just as alienating and tortuous an affair as sitting through the Grammys.
During the show, I managed to take several toilet breaks, read the newspapers and channel-surf.
Basically, networks have strip-mined this genre and worn it out so that “Survivor” is just another gagfest – a little slow and full of yawns.
Start by cueing some warbling music and the aggravating Jeff Probst: “It’s the ultimate challenge! 39 days! Sixteen people! One … survivor!”
Of course, the blueprint of “Survivor” remains: Sixteen men and women are abandoned on the tiny remote island of Nuku Hiva in the South Pacific Marquesas archipelago with no rations of food or water.
Separated into two tribes — Maraamu (Wind) and Rotu (Rain) — they will contend against each other and live off the island.
They take part in challenges, and every three days, someone gets voted out. The last man standing gets $1million.
Because everyone is chasing that $1 million, the 16 manifest a host of banal emotions and conditions that viewers simply want to tune out.
On the first episode of “Survivor 4,” the 16 castaways were forced to abandon a fishing boat ship and paddle several hours to their new homes.
Lots goes wrong, so let’s just pick on the dialogue.
When Maraamu reached shore, Sean led a prayer with Peter and said, “We didn’t do this on our own, God’s hand was definitely under the raft guiding us.”
Then more than 23 million viewers watched as Sarah made stupid jokes and pranced around like a lunatic.
While she made dumb comments like “If I win, I want to buy a monkey,” Rob was right there with her, gushing, “Me too. I love monkeys.”
And you know what? There are even more trite bits.
When Hunter took charge and assumed the role of leader, Gina said, “I’m already in love with Hunter. He’s a great person and we have so much in common. Hunter knows a little bit about everything.”
Over at the Rotu tribe, after a row with Kathy, John exclaimed, “I am Irish so I have a temper, and she sparked it. Now I became fixated with starting a fire to combat my outburst.”
Still, I bet that after seeing the show, swarms of tourists will descend on the hitherto unspoiled island. Garbage carelessly tossed aside and harassed animals, an endless source of amusement for some tourists, will be the norm.
So consider that the the Tribal Council has spoken: “Survivor Marquesas” isn’t just bad. It sucks.
Kaishi Lee is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.