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Have you ever wondered why you watch TV or love a TV show so much that you watch it religiously?

Survivor is the only TV series that I have not missed one episode. I started watching the show when I was 16. Now, I’m 31. This week, the show ended its 31st season. It amazed me that after 15 years and 31 seasons, I’m still watching the same show and feeling passionate about it.

For those of you who doesn’t know what Survivor is. It’s an American reality TV show by CBS where 16-20 contestants (otherwise known as castaways) are marooned on an island and divided into tribes. Each week, one castaway is voted out until one remains to claim the title of the sole survivor and US$1 million.

I thought to myself, “Why do I love Survivor so much? What kept me watching? What is the draw?”

Why I Love Survivor (the CBS Reality TV Show)?

Everyone watch TV for different reasons. Most people watch TV for entertainment value. Me too. But what makes a show like Survivor so “entertaining” to someone like me?

I love Survivor for many reasons. I love the game. It makes me think. After each episode, I would analyze the show in my head and anticipate what would happen next. It’s like solving a difficult puzzle. I love how Survivor touched my heart. I love the unpredictability, the twists, the themes and the editing.

Not to mention the aesthetic part of the show. I love the how the shots are framed, the music, the details involved in the design of the tribal councils, the props and the challenges. I also love to see how some castaways grow in a season (e.g. Cirie Fields) and across seasons (e.g. Jerri Manthey).

  But most importantly, I love how Survivor makes me grow.

How Has Survivor Impacted My Life

What makes Survivor so “entertaining” to me is it’s so interactive. I feel like I’m part of the show. Not only because I analyze the show and root for the castaways, I learn a lot about myself and other people from the show and it impacted my life outside the show.

Here’s how Survivor has impacted me:

1. I became more grateful for the things that I have.

Watching the castaways struggle on the island makes me grateful for what I have right now. It reminded me not to take things like shelter, water, food and relationships for granted.

Especially in this season, watching how the survivors get beaten up by the monsoon rain in Cambodia, I really feel for them. I live in Singapore. It’s not that far away from Cambodia. I know how crazy and long the rain gets during monsoon seasons. (In fact, it’s raining right now). We spend most of our time indoors and we don’t necessarily feel the impact. Watching the show makes me more appreciative of life in general.

2. I had my first self-esteem lesson on Survivor forum.

Believe it or not, I had my first self-esteem lesson on Survivor forum. I had very low self-esteem when I was a teen. No one in school or at home taught me how to love myself.

Lucky for me, I met some nice Survivor fans on the forum in season 4 (Survivor: Marquesas). I called them “angels”. When they knew that I didn’t like myself, they encouraged me to list down ten things I feel good about myself. Even though I’m no longer participate in these Survivor forums and eventually lost contact with them, that was a defining first step toward the growth of my self-esteem.

3. I learned to root for myself.

Over the years, I realized that most of the contestants I rooted for are reflections of myself. They usually possess a quality, personality trait or value that is similar to mine. For example, in this season (Survivor 31: Cambodia), I found myself rooting for Stephen Fishbach. I guess I see the nerdy part of me in him. If I were to be left in a tribe with other alpha men, I would definitely be “a fish out of water” too. I would absolutely hit the wrong target and have no luck with ring toss in the challenges.

I’m actually watching Survivor for myself.

I used to feel misunderstood by the people around me. Watching Survivor made me realize that I’m not alone. There are people who are like me or in similar situation like me. Whenever I’m rooting for a castaway in the show, I’m actually rooting for myself. I want them to do well because I want myself to do well (not just in the show, but in life too).

4. It taught me how to communicate with others.

The first time I watch Survivor, I was 16 and was pretty socially inept. I thought to myself how nice would it be to just vote off some people in my life. That would be convenient. But after watching so many seasons of Survivor, I learned how to communicate with people who are different from me.

In Survivor, people with different background or personality have to work together to survive. A country guy and a city guy can form an alliance. A young, physical guy can paired up with a weaker, older lady. People from different alliances can come together and work towards a common objective to form a voting bloc. Anything goes in Survivor.

I learned a lot just by watching the players interact with each other. Listening to different sides of the stories in the confession also gives me a wider perspectives and helps me understand people better. I became more open and empathetic after watching Survivor.

5. I went into the ocean for the first time because of Survivor.

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Three months ago, I was in Bali for this entrepreneur incubator program called iLab. On one weekend, we went to the Lembongan Island for snorkeling.

I had not snorkel before. I didn’t know how to swim. I panicked easily in the water. I really had no business in the ocean. And it didn’t really matter if I get into the ocean or not. I can’t see that well without my glasses on. To sum it up, I won’t lose sleep over it.

But as the day went on, I thought to myself, “Is it worthwhile for me to get into the ocean?” This is a great opportunity to get into the ocean. I’m with people I trust. I know they will save me even if I drown. I might not get another chance like this.

Plus, I always wondered what it feels like to be in the ocean like the Survivor contestants . I wanted to experience what the survivors had experienced. So I decided to go down the ocean. And oh wow, the ocean water is salty!

6. I found my writing voice through Survivor.

Before this blog was created, I was actually blogging about reality TV shows. I started blogging because no one in my family watches Survivor and there’s no one for me to discuss the show with. And I felt that commenting on other people’s blog or forum wasn’t enough at that time, so I started my first blog called Music Creates Reality.

This blog no longer exists anymore. I was writing about Survivor 23: South Pacific and I discovered that instead of writing about the synopsis of the show and discussing the strategies. I always ended up writing about the psychological and social aspects of the castaways. For instance, I would be writing about how the survivor relate with one another and what beliefs they might have that didn’t serve them in the game. It was weird. But I started developing my own writing voice. 

7. I received a lot of inspirations from Survivor.

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I remember the first eight seasons, I was pretty crazy with Survivor. I would record the show and watch each episodes at least twice. I even started learning how to use Adobe Photoshop so that I can make Survivor banners.

Survivor has given me lots of inspirations. Even in my book, Fearless Passion, I wrote about my passion for Survivor and how it gave me some personality in class. I also interviewed a reality TV coach for this book because I love Survivor so much.

What Can You Learn from Your Favorite TV Show?

Next time, when you watch your favorite TV show, ask yourself why you love the show and what you can learn from it. Take a closer look at it. You might be surprised what you’ll discover.


Featured Photo Credit: Logo from CBS

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