Re: Survivor Strategies

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From: Adam Rifkin (
Date: Fri Aug 25 2000 - 18:28:57 PDT

I wrote:
> My observation on Survivor: In a way, it's beautiful that the show's
> producers did -nothing- to make Richard a sympathetic character.
> ( calls him Machiabelly. :) What the show told us
> with the final vote is that nonsympathetic is, in the end, better than
> just plain pathetic.

rst responded:
> For an interesting contrast to this view of Rich, you might want to
> look at the Usenet newsgroup, where he's generally
> admired --- he *had* a strategy, though not a very sophisticated one
> by Diplomacy standards. (Rich *was* overconfident, and at least one
> of the Rattana votes came very close to booting him).

Reflecting back on it, I think it was an awful strategy, because he
depended significantly on people not kicking him out for arrogance, and
I don't think that was a given, especially the weeks he really got on
peoples' nerves. Winning the fire challenge when there were only seven
people left might have stopped a coup that week, so I think he relied a
little too much on luck, too. A much better strategy was to stay under
the radar but stay loyal to the alliance, like Rudy did. After the
first few weeks, as he learned to play the game, Rudy was never in
danger of getting the boot until the Final Three.

Kelly, the waffler who ended up coming in second place, had at least
three chances to give Rich the boot: the vote with 8 people she broke
the alliance and could have been a swing vote (since Sean was still
doing his alphabet strategy then, a revote would have offer Rich); the
vote with 3 people where she got to decide the Final Two, and -- the one
that I think made her lose -- the vote with 4 people that had a tie.

If Kelly kept her loyalty to Sue instead of switching her vote after the
tie, she would have forced a stalemate. Now THAT would have been fun. :)

Instead, she waffled, switched her vote to boot Sue instead of Rich, and
had to suffer the wrath of that "Snakes and Rats and Vultures, Oh My"
speech in the final jury. If she hadn't screwed Sue during that vote,
it's likely Sue would have voted for her in the final jury, and she
would have won the jury DESPITE Greg being a completely random idiot. :)

Still, you gotta assume that all 16 people playing in Survivor II
carefully watched all the episodes of Survivor I and therefore know that
the backstabbing, duplicitous, alliance-forming strategy *works*. Thus
there should be a lot more fireworks and politicking in the second one.
Should be quality entertainment.

BTW, for anyone who didn't get to watch Survivor I this summer, CBS is
going to re-run the 13 weeks Fridays this fall starting September 15.
With extra commentary provided by the players about what they were
thinking and doing, since now there needs to be no secret-guarding.

I'm still amazed they kept the winner a secret. What a surprise. The
"Rudy's gonna take it" rumors were in full force on Wednesday;
essentially, he's right that in accidentally letting go of the pole
(Bryant Gumbel: "What were you thinking?" Rudy: "I think I fell
asleep.") he lost the million bucks since he would have beaten either
Richard or Kelly in the final vote, in most peoples' humble opinions.

> BTW, the diplomacy aspect is one reason why a lot of the TV critics
> Adam quoted are probably wrong about the prospects of Survivor II ---
> it probably won't just be more of the same, because there will almost
> certainly be duelling alliances, a situation which creates lots of
> interesting possibilities for non-aligned players, and plenty of
> telegenic intrigue.

Yes, now that everyone knows how to play the game, it's going to be a
lot more meta. Hopefully alliances will be more fluid on a week-to-week
basis because that's more fun to watch than a Gang-of-Four that picks off
the others one by one unexpectedly.

Also, Brad Templeton reminds me that Rich's strategy wasn't nearly as
"evil" as the television show made him out to be:

> Probable Myth: Richard is an evil, scheming backstabber.
> He just played the game the way all of them knew the game might be
> played. All were aware of the possibility and existence of alliances
> from the start. Richard was definitely enjoying playing the game, but
> you don't know what the others were feeling. They were all there for
> the million dollars. He may be evil, but almost surely not as evil as
> shown with the selected clips.

Editting for television is a funny thing. You can basically make anyone
look anyway you want them to look if you're only showing 40 minutes for
every three days' worth of footage shot. Brad pretty much says this too:

> If I followed you around with a camera for 5 weeks, 24 hours a day,
> asking you pointed questions about yourself and your friends, and then
> got to edit that down into 20 minutes of out of context quotes, I
> could make you look like anybody. I could catch you saying
> contradictory things. I could make your friends look like anybody.
> Devil, Saint, it doesn't matter. Even if I didn't know what I wanted
> you to look like at first, I could still get enough material in all
> directions to present the picture I want.
> At first you would of course be wary of this and know you were on
> camera. But 24 hours a day, week after week, while competing in
> strenuous contests? Your guard would come down soon enough.


Another benefit of being an inspired entrepreneur. Life is simple. You fight or you fail. -- Xander Blakely

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