Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Most Influential Television Shows Of The 2000s, Part Two

Here are the results from night five:

Contestant 1 - Angela Watt
Miss $25,000 question, win $1,000

Contestant 2 - Jacob Shaha
Miss $50,000 question, win $25,000

Contestant 3 - Eddie Lawhorn
Answers $50,000 question, rollover

Celebrity - Shawn Johnson
Correct Answer

Yesterday I talked about Millionaire's impact on television. The show certainly changed the game show genre forever, but its real impact was that it led to the creation of the American version of a Swedish show. In his essay on this show for the book I Love TV, Tim Holland says a case can be made that this is the most influential television show of the decade; I agree completely. The tribe has spoken. I'm talking about Survivor, and yes, Survivor is Swedish.

Remember when Survivor started? We didn't think of it as a reality-competition show; at the time, I don't think we knew there was such a thing as a reality-competition show. We thought of this new show hosted by the guy from Rock And Roll Jeopardy as (A) a game show, (B) a show that will go nowhere and (C) believe it or not, I think we thought a television show in which sixteen people are placed on an island and told to remove each other one by one might be an interesting social experiment!

We were probably wrong on all three of those. Whether it's a game show is something we can probably debate all day; it ceased to be a social experiment as soon as the first season ended and the contestants started trying to extend their fame; and as for the second one, Survivor's nineteenth season premieres on September 17, complete with the guy from Rock And Roll Jeopardy. I don't know if anyone still watches, but the show has already done its damage.

What would television be like if Survivor had never happened? I think we'd be better off, but then I would say that. Do you want to know what a really interesting social experiment would be? Go back in time to 1998, show a bunch of people the first season of Survivor, and tell them that within a few years, a good half of what's on television would be shows like this.

More Millionaire Sunday,


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