Ultra Vires


The Tribe Has Spoken: You Should Watch Survivor

An effort to get others to adopt my preferred method of escapism

Considering the people in my life seem to be getting a bit sick of hearing me talk endlessly about my favourite reality television show, I’ve decided to channel my passion into the written word. To be clear, when I say reality TV, I mean competition shows that involve social strategy, not just those Real Housewives-types where you are basically just watching people go about their day-to-day lives. I want to offer some quality recommendations here and keep everyone up-to-date on what’s going on in the bustling reality TV world. If you like and want more of this, don’t worry! There is plenty of reality TV knowledge left in my brain to go ‘round! 

Reality TV was a big part of my childhood, thanks to my grandma. We kept up with shows together and I always looked forward to visiting her house, knowing there would be a backlog of PVR’ed Big Brother or The Amazing Race episodes ready for me to binge. A lot of people tell me they used to watch my favourite shows but fell off the horse as adults. This is fair, but I urge you to reconsider. Not only can reality TV be a great form of escapism, but it can also be a fun way of connecting with the community. It’s nice being able to find common ground with people, despite their varying backgrounds, and bond over the “television tea.” Watching reality TV also gives me something to look forward to each week, which can mean a lot when you’re in the trenches at U of T Law! If any of the above sparked your interest, or you are curious whether your childhood show is even still running, here’s a bit more on my favourite show currently airing: Survivor


Survivor is a social strategy game in which regular people (and sometimes minor celebrities) are marooned in the jungles of Fiji and have to vote out a tribemate each week. The show has been around almost as long as I have been alive and recently premiered its 45th season, and for good reason! Survivor continually casts dynamic characters who are highly entertaining and easy to root for. The show also features stunning nature shots and fun editing. In fact, true Survivor nerds (myself included) enjoy a whole pastime of over-analyzing what they call “the edit.” 

If you aren’t sure exactly how Survivor works, here is the basic premise: a group of people (castaways) head off to Fiji, where they are divided into (typically) three tribes living on separate beaches. The tribes must compete in challenges to earn rewards and immunity. Each week, the tribe that finishes last in the challenges must go to tribal council and vote one member off the island. The game also features several hidden immunity idols dispersed throughout the tribe camps. Immunity idols can be used by the finder to invalidate any votes cast against them and secure safety. In Season 45, finding the immunity idols has proven to be far from simple. One featured on last week’s episode, for example, was found encased in wax, and as such, had to be melted in the tribal council fire (in front of everyone, because the tribe had not yet even received flint to make fire). Don’t worry though, the holder of that idol was promptly voted out. Other advantages will undoubtedly come up this season, but we can hope the producers did not cook up anything too crazy this time (trust me, they have in the past)!

As the tribes continue to vote members out, the game shifts to its individual component. The tribes merge and, instead of competing for tribe safety, castaways are in it for themselves, each seeking the individual immunity necklace. Tribal councils continue, and those who are voted out post-merge join the jury. When four players remain, the holder of individual immunity gets a ticket to the finale, alongside one other person of their choosing. The remaining two players compete in a fire-making competition, the winner of which also earns a spot in the finale. Then, at the final tribal council, the final castaways field questions (from the jury) as to why they should be crowned the “Sole Survivor” and win the grand prize. The jury then votes for who they want to win. 

There is no overarching theme this season of Survivor, as has been the case since the beginning of the “New Era” in Season 41. It may be of interest to law students, however, that there are three attorneys on this season, as well as one singer who turned down an offer from Harvard Law! 

We are currently only four weeks into it (still in the pre-merge stage) and the episodes are only going to get more exciting…so the time to start watching is now! Alternatively, you can also watch seasons 30-44 with Paramount+. Not sure where to start? Some beginner seasons I’d suggest are Season 37 (David vs. Goliath themed) and Season 41 (the first season in the “New Era”…sorry for spoiling the winner below). 

Exciting news! Post-Season 39, Canadians are also eligible to apply to be on Survivor. Any takers? So far, Canadians have fared extremely well on the show, with Torontonian Erika Casupanan taking home the one million dollar grand prize in Season 41 and Maryanna Oketch, from Ajax, subsequently winning Season 42. If law school doesn’t work out…

Recent Stories